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At this moment a Spanish Ensign approached the Prince of Parma and conjured him 

to seek a place of safety 

Schiller — " The Revolt of the Netherlands^'' Vol. Seven,/. 314 















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M C M I I 



? 1 200 9 A35 





Author's Preface » . . . 5 

Introduction . ., . . . . , . 8 

Book I. — Earlier History op the Nettteklands up to the 

Sixteenth Century ..,.,.. 22 

Book II. — Cardinal GkanvellA ■ - . . Cl 

Book III. — Conspiracy of the Noblbs i42 

Book IV. — The Iconoclasts 187 

Trial and Execution of Counts Egmont and Horn . 279 

Siege of Antwerp by the Prince of Parma, in the 

years 1584 and 1585 287 

1 — Schiller Yol. VII. 






Many years ago, when I read the History of the Belgian 
Revolution in Watson's excellent work, I was seized with 
an enthusiasm which political events but rarely excite. 
On further reflection I felt that this enthusiastic feeling 
had arisen less from the book itself than from the ardent 
workings of my own imagination, which had imparted to 
the recorded materials the particular form that so fasci- 
nated me. These imaginations, therefore, I felt a wish 
to lix, to multiply, and to strengthen ; these exalted 
sentiments I was anxious to extend by communicating 
them to others. This was my principal motive for com- 
mencing the present history, my only vocation to write 
it. The execution of this desiojn carried me farther than 
in the beginning I had expected. A closer acquaintance 
with my materials enabled me to discover defects pre- 
viously unnoticed, long waste tracts to be filled up, 
apparent contradictions to be reconciled, and isolated 
facts to be brouoht into connection with the rest of the 
subject. Not so much with the view of enriching my 
liistory with new facts as of seeking a key to old ones, I 
betook myself to the original sources, and thus what was 
originally intended to be only a general outline expanded 
under my hands into an elaborate history. The first part, 
which concludes with the Duchess of Parma's departure 
from the Netherlands, must be looked upon only as the 
introduction to the history of the Revolution itself, which 
did not come to an open outbreak till the government of 
her successor. I have bestowed the more care and atten- 



tion upon this introductory period the more the generality 
of writers who had previously treated of it seemed to me 
deficient in these very qualities. Moreover, it is in my 
opinion the more important as being the root and source 
of all the subsequent events. If, then, the first volume 
should appear to any as barren in important incident, 
dwelling prolixly on trifies, or, rather, should seem at 
first sight profuse of reflections, and in general tediously 
minute, it must be remembered that it was precisely out 
of small beginnings that the Revolution was gradually 
developed ; and that all the great results which follow 
sprang out of a countless number of trifling and little 

A nation like the one before us invariably takes its first 
steps with doubts and uncertainty, to move afterwards 
only the more rapidly for its previous hesitation. I pro- 
posed, therefore, to follow the same method in describing 
this rebellion. The longer the reader delays on the intro- 
duction the more familiar he becomes with the actors in 
this history, and the scene in which they took a part, so 
much the more rapidly and unerringly shall I be able 
to lead him through the subsequent periods, where the 
accumulation of materials will forbid a slowness of ste]) 
or minuteness of attention. 

As for the authorities of our history there is not so 
much cause to complain of their paucity as of their ex- 
treme abundance, since it is indispensable to read them 
all to obtain that clear view of the whole subject to which 
the perusal of a part, however large, is always prejudicial. 
From the unequal, partial, and often contradictory narra- 
tives of the same occurrences it is often extremely difii- 
cult to seize the truth, which in all is alike partly con- 
cealed and to be found complete in none. In this first 
volume, besides de Thou, Strada, Reyd, Grotius, Meteren, 
Burgundius, Meursius, Bentivoglio, and some moderns, 
the Memoirs of Counsellor Hopper, the life and corre- 
spondence of his friend Yiglias, the records of the trials 
of the Counts of Hoorne and Egmont, the defence of the 
Prince of Orange, and some few others have been ray 
guides. I must here acknowled2;e my obligations to a 
work compiled with much industry and critical acumen, 


and written with singular truthfulness and impartiality. 
I allude to the general history of the United Netherlands 
which was published in Holland during the present cen- 
tury. Besides many original documents which I could 
not otherwise have had access to, it has abstracted all 
that is valuable in the excellent works of Bos, Hooft, 
Brandt, Le Clerc, which either were hnpossible for me to 
procure or were not available to my use, as being written 
in Dutch, which I do not understand. An otherwise 
ordinary writer, Richard Dinoth, has also been of service 
to me by the many extracts he gives from the pamphlets 
of the day, which have been long lost. I have in vain 
endeavored to procure the correspondence of Cardinal 
Granvella, which also would no doubt have thrown much 
light upon the history of these times. The lately pub- 
lished work on the Spanish Inquisition by my excellent 
countryman, Professor Spit tier of Gottingen, reached me 
too late for its sagacious and important contents to be 
available for my purpose. 

The more I am convinced of the importance of the 
French history, the more I lament that it was not in my 
power to study, as I could have wished, its copious annals 
in the original sources and contemporary documents, and 
to reproduce it abstracted of the form in which it was 
transmitted to me by the more intelligent of my prede- 
cessors, and thereby emancipate myself from the influence 
which every talented author exercises more or less upon 
his readers. But to effect this the work of a few years 
must have become the labor of a life. My aim in making 
this attempt will be more than attained if it should con- 
vince a portion of the reading public of the possibility of 
writing a history with historic truth without making 
a trial of patience to the reader; and if it should extort 
from another portion the confession that history can 
borrow from a cognate art without thereby, of necessity, 
becoming a romance. 

Weimar, Michaelmas Fair, 1788. 


Op those important political events which make the six- 
teenth century to take rank among the brightest of the 
world's epochs, the foundation of the freedom of the 
Netherlands appears to me one of the most remarkable. 
If the glittering exploits of ambition and the pernicious 
lust of power claim our admiration, how much more so 
should an event in which oppressed humanity struggled 
for its noblest rights, where with the good cause un- 
wonted powers were united, and the resources of resolute 
despair triumphed in unequal contest over the terrible 
arts of tyranny. 

Great and encouraging is the reflection that there is a 
resource left us against the arrogant usurpations of des- 
potic power; that its best-contrived plans against the 
liberty of mankind may be frustrated; that resolute 
opposition can weaken even the outstretched arm of tyr- 
anny ; and that heroic perseverance can eventually exhaust 
its fearful resources. Never did this truth affect me so 
sensibly as in tracing the history of that memorable 
rebellion which forever severed the United Netherlands 
from the Spanish Crown. Therefore I thought it not 
unworth the while to attempt to exhibit to the world this 
grand memorial of social union, in the hope that it may 
awaken in the breast of my reader a spirit-stirring con- 
sciousness of his own powers, and give a new and irre- 
fragable example of what in a good cause men may both 
dare and venture, and what by union they may accom- 
plish. It is not the extraordinary or heroic features of 
this event that induce me to describe it. The annals of 
the world record perhaps many similar enterprises, which 
may have been even bolder in the conception and more 
brilliant in the execution. Some states have fallen 
after a nobler struggle; others have risen with more 
exalted strides. Nor are we here to look for eminent 
heroes, colossal talents, or those marvellous exploits which 
the history of past times presents in such rich abundance. 
Those times are gone; such men are no more. In the 
soft lap of refinement we have suffered the energetic 


powers to become enervate which those ages called into 
action and rendered indispensable. With admiring awe 
we wonder at these gigantic images of the past as a 
feeble old man gazes on the athletic sports of youth. 

Not so, however, in the history before us. The people 
here presented to our notice were the most peaceful in 
our quarter of the globe, and less capable than their 
neighbors of that heroic spirit which stamps a lofty 
character even on the most insignificant actions. The 
pressure of circumstances with its peculiar influence sur- 
prised them and forced a transitory greatness upon them, 
which they never could have possessed and perhaps will 
never possess again. It is, indeed, exactly this want of 
heroic grandeur which renders this event peculiarly in- 
structive ; and while others aim at showing the superiority 
of genius over chance, I shall here paint a scene where 
necessity creates genius and accident makes heroes. 

If in any case it be allowable to recognize the interven- 
tion of Providence in human affairs it is certainly so in 
the present history, its course appears so contradictory to 
reason and experience. Philip II., the most powerful 
sovereign of his line — whose dreaded supremacy menaced 
the independence of Europe — whose treasures surpassed 
the collective wealth of all the monarchs of Christendom 
besides — whose ambitious projects were backed by 
numerous and well-disciplined armies — whose troops, 
hardened by long and bloody wars, and confident in past 
victories and in the irresistible prowess of this nation, 
were eager for any enterprise that promised glory and 
spoil, and ready to second with prompt obedience the 
daring genius of their leaders — this dreaded potentate 
here appears before us obstinately pursuing one favorite 
, project, devoting to it the untiring efforts of a long reign, 
and bringing all these terrible resources to bear upon it ; 
but forced, in the evening of his reign, to abandon it — ^ 
here we see the mighty Philip II. engaging in combat 
with a few weak and powerless adversaries, and retiring 
from it at last with disgrace. 

And with what adversaries ? Here, a peaceful tribe of 
fishermen and shepherds, in an almost-forgotten corner 
of Europe, which with difliculty they had rescued from 


the ocean ; tlie sea their profession, and at once their 
wealth and their plague ; poverty with freedom their 
highest blessing, their glory, their virtue. There, a harm-- 
less, moral, commercial people, revelling in the abundant 
fruits of thriving industry, and jealous of the maintenance 
of laws which had proved their benefactors. In the happy 
leisure of affluence they forsake the narrow circle of im- 
mediate wants and learn to thirst after higher and nobler 
gratifications. The new views of truth, whose benignant 
dawn now broke over Europe, cast a fertilizing beam on 
this favored clime, and the free burgher admitted witit 
joy the light which oppressed and miserable slaves shut 
out. A spirit of independence, which is the ordinary 
companion of prosperity and freedom, lured this people 
on to examine the authority of antiquated opinions and 
to break an ignominious chain. But the stern rod of 
despotism was held suspended over them ; arbitrary 
power threatened to tear away the foundation of their 
happiness ; the guardian of their laws became their tyrant. 
Simple in their statecraft no less than in their manners, 
they dared to appeal to ancient treaties and to remind the 
lord of both Indies of the rights of nature. A name 
decides the whole issue of things. In Madrid that was 
called rebellion which in Brussels was simply styled a 
lawful remonstrance. The complaints of Brabant required 
a prudent mediator ; Philip II. sent an executioner. The 
signal for war was given. An unparalleled tyranny as- 
sailed both property and life. The despairing citizens, to 
whom the choice of deaths was all that was left, chose 
the nobler one on the battle-field. A wealthy and luxu= 
rious nation loves peace, but becomes warlike as soon as 
it becomes poor. Then it ceases to tremble for a life 
which is deprived of everything that had made it desir- 
able. In an instant the contagion of rebellion seizes at 
once the most distant provinces ; trade and con.merce 
are at a standstill, the ships disappear from the harbors, 
the artisan abandons his workshop, the rustic his unculti- 
vated fields. Thousands fled to distant lands, a thousand 
victims fell on the bloodv field, and fresh thousands 
pressed on. Divine, indeed, must that doctrine be for 
which men could die so joyfully. All that was wanting 


was the last finishing hand, the enlightened, enterprising 
spirit, to seize on this great political crisis and to mould 
the offspring of chance into the ripe creation of wisdom, 
William the Silent, like a second Brutus, devoted himself 
to the great cause of liberty. Superior to all selfishness, 
he resigned honorable oflices which entailed on him ob- 
jectionable duties, and, magnanimously divesting himselt 
of all his princely dignities, he descended to a state of 
voluntary poverty, and became but a citizen of the world. 
The cause of justice was staked upon the hazardous game 
of battle ; but the newly-raised levies of mercenaries and 
peaceful husbandmen were unable to withstand the ter- 
rible onset of an experienced force. Twice did the brave 
William lead his dispirited troops against the tyrant. 
Twice was he abandoned by them, but not by his courage. 

Philip II. sent as many reinforcements as the dreadful 
importunity of his viceroy demanded. Fugitives, whom 
their country rejected, souglit a new home on the ocean, and 
turned to the ships of their enemy to satisfy the cravings 
both of vengjeance and of want. Naval heroes were now 
formed out of corsairs, and a marine collected out of 
piratical vessels ; out of morasses arose a republic. Seven 
provinces threw off the yoke at the same time, to form 
a new, youthful state, powerful by its waters and its 
union and despair. A solemn decree of the whole nation 
deposed the tyrant, and the Spanish name was erased 
from all its laws. 

For such acts no forgiveness remained ; the republic 
became formidable only because it was impossible for her 
to retrace her steps. But factions distracted her within ; 
without, her terrible element, the sea itself, leaguing with 
her oppressors, threatened her very infancy with a pre- 
mature grave. She felt herself succumb to the superior 
force of the enemy, and cast herself a suppliant before 
the most powerful thrones of Europe, begging them to 
accept a dominion which she herself could no longer 
protect. At last, but with difficulty — so despised at first 
was this state that even the rapacity of foreign monarchs 
spurned her opening bloom — a stranger deigned to accept 
their importunate offer of a dangerous crown. New 
)iopes began to revive her sinking courage ; but in this 


new father of his country destiny gave her a traitor, and 
in the critical emergency, when the foe was in full force 
before her very gates, Charles of Anjou invaded the 
liberties which he had been called to protect. In the 
midst of the tempest, too, the assassin's hand tore the 
steersman from the helm, and with William of Orange 
the career of the infant republic was seemingly at an end, 
and all her guardian angels fled. But the ship continued 
to scud along before the storm, and the swelling canvas 
carried her safe without the pilot's help. 

Philip II. missed the fruits of a deed which cost him his 
royal honor, and perhaps, also, his self-respect. Liberty 
struggled on still with despotism in obstinate and dubious 
contest ; sanguinary battles were fought ; a brilliant 
array of heroes succeeded each other on the field of glory, 
and Flanders and Brabant were the schools which educated 
generals for the coming century. A long, devastating 
war laid waste the open country; victor and vanquished 
alike waded through blood ; while the rising republic of 
the waters gave a welcome to fugitive industry, and out 
of the ruins of despotism erected the noble edifice of its 
own greatness. For forty years lasted the war whose 
happy termination was not to bless the dying eye of 
Philip ; which destroyed one paradise in Europe to form 
a new one out of its shattered fragments ; which destroyed 
tl e choicest flower of military youth, and while it en- 
riched more than a quarter of the globe impoverished the 
possessor of the golden Peru. This monarchy who could 
expend nine hundred tons of gold without oppressing his 
subjects, and by tyrannical measures extorted far more, 
heaped, moreover, on his exhausted people a debt of one 
hundred and forty millions of ducats. An implacable 
hatred of liberty swallowed up all these treasures, and 
*'0nsumed on the fruitless task the labor of a royal life. 
But the Reformation throve amidst the devastations of 
the sword, and over the blood of her citizens the banner 
of the new republic floated victorious. 

This improbable turn of affairs seems to border on a 
miracle ; many circumstances, however, combined to break 
the power of Philip, and to favor the progress of the 
infant state. Had the whole weight of his power falleiu 


on the United Provinces there had been no hope for their 
religion or their liberty. His own ambition, by tempting 
him to divide his strength, came to the aid of their weak- 
ness. The expensive policy of maintaining traitors in 
every cabinet of Europe ; the support of the League in 
France ; the revolt of the Moors in Granada ; the con- 
quest of Portugal, and the magnificent fabric of the 
Escurial, drained at last his apparently inexhaustible 
treasury, and prevented his acting in the field with spirit 
and energy. The German and Italian troops, whom the 
hope of gain alone allured to his banner, mutinied w^hen he 
could no longer pay them, and faithlessly abandoned their 
leaders in the decisive moment of action. These terrible in- 
struments of oppression now turned their dangerous power 
against their employer, and wreaked their vindictive rage 
on the provinces which remained faithful to him. The 
unfortunate armament against England, on which, like a 
desperate gamester, he had staked the whole strength of 
his kingdom, completed his ruin ; with the armada sank 
the wealth of the two Indies, and the flower of Spanish 

But in the very same proportion that the Spanish 
power declined the republic rose in fresh vigor. The 
ravages which the fanaticism of the new religion, the 
tyranny of the Inquisition, the furious rapacity of the 
soldiery, and the miseries of a long war unbroken by any 
interval of peace, made in the provinces of Brabant, 
Flanders, and Hainault, at once the arsenals and the 
magazines of this expensive contest, naturally rendered 
it every year more difiicult to support and recruit the 
royal armies. The Catholic Netherlands had already 
lost a million of citizens, and the trodden fields main- 
tained their husbandmen pj longer. Spain itself had but 
few more men to spare. That country, surprised by a 
sudden afl[luence which brought idleness with it, had lost 
much of its population, and could not long support the 
continual drafts of men which were required both for the 
Kew World and the Netherlands. Of these conscripts 
few ever saw their country again ; and these few having 
left it as youths returned to it infirm and old. Gold, 
which had become more common, made soldiers propor 


tionately dearer; the growing charm of effeminacy en- 
hanced the price of the opj3osite virtues. Wholly differ- 
ent was the posture of affairs with the rebels. The 
thousands whom the cruelty of the viceroy expelled from 
the southern Netherlands, the Huguenots whom the wars 
of persecution drove from France, as well as every one 
whom constraint of conscience exiled from the other 
parts of Europe, all alike flocked to unite themselves with 
the Belgian insurgents. The whole Christian world was 
their recruiting: scround. The fanaticism both of the 
l^orsecutor and the persecuted worked in their behalf 
The enthusiasm of a doctrine newly embraced, revenge, 
Avant, and hopeless misery drew to their standard adven- 
turers from every part of Europe. All whom the new 
doctrine had won, all who had suffered, or had still cause 
of fear from despotism, linked their own fortunes with 
those of the new republic. Every injury inflicted by a 
tyrant gave a right of citizenship in Holland. Men 
pressed towards a country where liberty raised her spirit- 
stirring banner, where respect and security were insured 
to a fugitive religion, and even revenge on the oppressor. 
If we consider the conflux in the present day of people 
to Holland, seeking by their entrance upon her territory 
to be reinvested in their rights as men, what must it have 
been at a time when the rest of Europe groaned under 
a heavy bondage, when Amsterdam was nearly the only 
free port for all opinions ? Many hundred families sought 
a refuge for their wealth in a land which the ocean and 
domestic concord powerfully combined to protect. The 
republican army maintained its full complement without 
the plough being stripped of hands to work it. Amid 
the clash of arms trade and industry flourished, and the 
peaceful citizen enjoyed in anticipation the fruits of 
liberty which foreign blood was to purchase for them. 
At the very time when the republic of Holland was 
struggling for existence she extended her dominions 
beyond the ocean, and was quietly occupied in erecting 
her East Indian Empire. 

Moreover, Spain maintained tliis expensive war with 
dead, unfructifying gold, that never returned into the 
Uand which gave it away, while it raised to her the price 


of every necessary. The treasuries of the republic were 
industry and commerce. Time lessened the one whilst 
it multiplied the other, and exactly in the same propor- 
tion that the resources of the Spanish government became 
exhausted by the long continuance of the war the repub- 
lic began to reap a richer harvest. Its field was sown 
sparingly with the choice seed which bore fruit, though 
late, yet a hundredfold ; but the tree from which Philip 
gathered fruit was a fallen trunk which never again 
became verdant. 

Philip's adverse destiny decreed that all the treasures 
which he lavished for the oppression of the Provinces 
should contribute to enrich them. The continual outlay 
of Spanish gold had diffused riches and luxury through- 
out Europe ; but the increasing wants of Europe were 
supplied chiefly by the Netherlanders, who were masters 
of the commerce of the known world, and who by their 
dealings fixed the price of all merchandise. Even during 
the war Philip could not prohibit his own subjects from 
trading with the republic ; nay, he could not even desire 
it. He himself furnished the rebels with the means of 
defraying the expenses of their own defence ; for the very 
war which was to ruin them increased the sale of their 
goods. The enormous sums expended on his fleets and 
armies flowed for the most part into the exchequer of the 
republic, which was more or less connected with the 
commercial places of Flanders and Brabant. Whatever 
Philip attempted against the rebels operated indirectly 
to their advantage. 

The sluggish progress of this war did the king as much 
injury as it benefited the rebels. His army was composed 
for the most part of the remains of those victorious troops 
which had gathered their laurels under Charles V. Old 
and long services entitled them to repose ; many of them, 
whom the war had enriched, impatiently longed for their 
homes, where they might end in ease a life of hardship. 
Their former zeal, their heroic spirit, and their discipline 
relaxed in the same proportion as they thought they had 
fully satisfied their honor and their duty, and as they 
began to reap at last the reward of so many battles. Be- 
sides^ the troops which had been accustomed by their 


irresistible impetuosity to vanquish all opponents were 
necessarily wearied out by a war which was carried on 
not so much against men as against the elements ; which 
exercised their patience more than it gratified their love 
of glory ; and where there was less of danger than of diffi- 
culty and want to contend with. Neither personal 
courage nor long military experience was of avail in a 
country whose peculiar features gave the most dastardly 
the advantage. Lastly, a single discomfiture on foreign 
ground did them more injury than any victories gained 
over an enemy at home could profit them. With the 
rebels the case w^as exactly the reverse. In so protracted 
a war, in which no decisive battle took place, the weaker 
party must naturally learn at last the art of defence from 
the stronger; slight defeats accustomed him to danger; 
slight victories animated his confidence. 

At the beginning of the w^ar the republican army 
scarcely dared to show itself in the field ; the long con- 
tinuance of the struggle practised and hardened it. As 
the royal armies grew wearied of victory, the confidence 
of the rebels rose with their improved discipline and 
experience. At last, at the end of half a century, master 
and pupil separated, unsubdued, and equal in the fight. 

Again, throughout the war the rebels acted with more 
concord and unanimity than the royalists. Before the 
former had lost their first leader the government of the 
Netherlands had passed through as many as five hands. 
The Duchess of Parma's indecision soon imparted itself 
to the cabinet of Madrid, which in a short time tried in 
succession almost every system of policy. Duke Alva's 
inflexible sternness, the mildness of his successor Reques- 
cens, Don John of Austria's insidious cunning, and the 
active and imperious mind of the Prince of Parma gave 
as many opposite directions to the war, while the plan of 
rebellion remained the same in a single head, who, as he 
saw it clearly, pursued it wdth vigor. The king's greatest 
misfortune was that right principles of action generally 
missed the right moment of application. In the com- 
mencement of the troubles, when the advantage was as 
yet clearly on the king's side, when prompt resolution 
and manly firmness might have crushed the rebellion in 


the cradle, the reigns of gov^erninent were allowed to 
liang loose in the hands of a woman. After the outbreak 
had come to an open revolt, and when the strength of 
the factious and the power of the king stood more equally 
balanced, and when a skilful flexible prudence could alone 
have averted the impending civil war, the government 
devolved on a man who was eminently deficient in this 
necessary qualification. So watchful an observer as 
William the Silent failed not to improve every advantage 
which the faulty policy of his adversary presented, and 
with quiet silent industry he slowly but surely pushed on 
the great enterprise to its accomplishment. 

But why did not Philip II. himself appear in the 
Netherlands ? Why did he prefer to employ every other 
means, however improbable, rather than make trial of the 
only remedy which could insure success ? To curb the 
overgrown power and insolence of the nobility there was 
no expedient more natural than the presence of their 
master. Before royalty itself all secondary dignities 
must necessarily have sunk in the shade, all other splendor 
be dimmed. Instead of the truth being left to flow slowly 
and obscurely through impure channels to the distant 
throne, so that procrastinated measures of redress gave 
time to ripen ebullitions of the moment into acts of delib- 
eration, his own penetrating glance would at once have 
been able to separate truth from error ; and cold j^olicy 
alone, not to speak of his humanity, would have saved 
the land a million citizens. The nearer to their source 
the more weighty would his edicts have been ; the thicker 
they fell on their objects the weaker and the more dis- 
pirited would have become the efforts of the rebels. It 
costs infinitely more to do an evil to an enemy in his 
presence than in his absence. At first the rebellion 
appeared to tremble at its own name, and long sheltered 
itself under the ingenious pretext of defending the cause 
of its sovereign against the arbitrary assumptions of his 
own viceroy. Philip's appearance in Brussels would have 
put an end at once to this juggling. In that case, the 
rebels would have been compelled to act up to their 
pretence, or to cast aside the mask, and so, by appearing 
in their true shape, condemn themselves. And what a 


relief for the Netherlands if the king's presence had only 
spared them those evi.^s which were inflicted upon them 
without his knoAvledge, nnd contrary to his will. What 
gain, too, even if it had only enabled him to watch over 
the expenditure of the vast sums which, illegally raised 
on the plea of meeting the exigencies of the war, dis- 
appeared in the plundering hands of his deputies. 

What the latter were compelled to extort by the unnat- 
ural expedient of terror, the nation would have been 
disposed to grant to the sovereign majesty. That which 
3iade his ministers detested would have rendered the 
monarch feared ; for the abuse of hereditary power is less 
painfully oppressive than the abuse of delegated authority. 
His presence would have saved his exchequer thousands 
had he been nothing more than an economical despot ; 
and even had he been less, the awe of his person would 
have preserved a territory which was lost through hatred 
and contempt for his instruments. 

In the same manner, as the oppression of the people of 
the Netherlands excited the sympathy of all who valued 
their own rights, it might have been expected that their 
disobedience and defection would have been a call to all 
princes to maintain their own prerogatives in the case of 
their neighbors. But jealousy of Spain got the better of 
political sympathies, and the first powers of Europe 
arranged themselves more or less openly on the side of 

Although bound to the house of Spain by the ties of 
relationship, the Emperor Maximilian II. gave it just 
cause for its charge against him of secretly favoring the 
rebels. By the offer of his mediation he implicitly 
acknowledged the partial justice of their com})laints, and 
thereby encouraged them to a resolute perseverance in 
their demands. Under an emperor sincerely devoted to 
the interests of the Spanish house, Wilham of Orange 
could scarcely have drawn so many troops and so much 
money from Germany. France, without openly and 
formally breaking the peace, placed a prince of the blood 
at the head of the Netherlandish rebels ; and it was with 
French gold and French troops that the operations of the 
latter were chiefly conducted . Elizabeth of England, toq 


did but exercise a just retaliation and revenge in protect- 
ing the rebels against their legitimate sovereign ; and 
although her meagre and sparing aid availed no farther 
than to ward off utter ruin from the republic, still even 
this was infinitely valuable at a moment when nothing 
but hope could have supported their exhausted couragCo 
With both these powers Philip at the time was at peace, 
but both betrayed him. Between the weak and the 
strong honesty often ceases to appear a virtue ; the deli- 
cate ties which bind equals are seldom observed towards 
him whom all men fear. Philip had banished truth from 
political intercourse ; he himself had dissolved all morality 
between kings, and had made artifice the divinity of cab- 
inets. Without once enjoying the advantages of his pre- 
ponderating greatness, he had, throughout life, to contend 
with the jealousy which it awakened in others. Europe 
made him atone for the possible abuses of a power of 
which in fact he never had the full possession. 

If against the disparity between the two combatants, 
which, at first sight, is so astounding, we weigh all the 
incidental circumstances which were adverse to Spain, 
but favorable to the Netherlands, that which is supernat- 
ural in this event will disappear, while that which is 
extraordinary will still remain — and a just standard w^ill 
be furnished by which to estimate the real merit of these 
republicans in working out their freedom. It must not, 
however, be thought that so accurate a calculation of the 
opposing forces could have preceded the undertaking 
itself, or that, on entering this unknown sea, they already 
knew the shore on which they w^ould ultimately be landed. 
The work did not present itself to the mind of its origin- 
ator in the exact form which it assumed when completed, 
any more than the mind of Luther foresaw the eternal 
separation of creeds when he began to oppose the sale of 
indulgences. What a difference betw^een the modest 
procession of those suitors in Brussels, who prayed for a 
more humane treatment as a favor, and the dreaded 
majesty of a free state, which treated with kings as 
equals, and in less than a century disposed of the throne 
of its former tyrant. The unseen hand of fate gave to 
the discharged arrow a higher flight, and quite a different 

2— Schiller Vol. VII. 


direction from that which it first received from the bow- 
string. In the womb of happy Brabant that liberty had 
its birth which, torn from its mother in its earliest in- 
fancy, was to gladden the so despised Holland. But the 
enterprise must not be less thought of because its issue 
differed from the first design. Man works up, smooths^ 
and fashions the rough stone which the times bring to 
him ; the moment and the instant may belong to him, but 
accident develops the history of the world. If the pas- 
sions which co-operated actively in bringing about this 
event were only not unworthy of the great work to which 
they were unconsciously subservient — if only the powers 
which aided in its accomplishment were intrinsically noble, 
if only the single actions out of whose concatenation it 
wonderfully arose were beautiful and great, then is the 
event grand, interesting, and fruitful for us, and we are 
at liberty to wonder at the bold offspring of chance, or 
rather offer up our admiration to a higher intelligence. 

The history of the world, like the laws of nature, is 
consistent with itself, and simple as the soul of man. 
Like conditions produce like phenomena. On the same 
soil where now the Netherlanders were to resist their 
Spanish tyrants, their forefathers, the Batavi and Belgae, 
fifteen centuries before, combated against their Roman 
oppressors. Like the former, submitting reluctantly to a 
haughty master, and misgoverned by rapacious satraps, 
they broke off their chain with like resolution, and tried 
their fortune in a similar unequal combat. The same 
pride of conquest, the same national grandeur, marked 
the Spaniard of the sixteenth century and the Roman of 
the first ; the same valor and discipline distinguished the 
armies of both, their battle array inspired the same ter- 
ror. There as here we see stratagem in combat with 
superior force, and firmness, strengthened by unanimity, 
wearying out a mighty power weakened by division; 
then as now private hatred armed a whole nation ; a 
single man, born for his times, revealed to his fellow- 
slaves the dangerous secret of their power, and brought 
their mute grief to a bloody announcement. " Confess, 
Eatavians," cries Claudius Civilis to his countrymen in 
the sacred grove, " we are no longer treated, as formerly, 


by these Romans as allies, but ratlier as slaves. We are 
handed over to their j)refects and centurions, who, when 
satiated with our plunder and with our blood, make way 
for others, who, under different names, renew the same 
outrages. If even at last Rome deigns to send us a 
legate, he oppresses us with an ostentatious and costly 
retinue, and with still more intolerable pride. The levies 
are again at hand w^hich tear forever children from their 
parents, brothers from brothers. Now, Batavians, is our 
time. ISTever did Rome lie so prostrate as now. Let not 
their names of legions terrify you. There is nothing in 
their camps but old men and plunder. Our infantry and 
horsemen are strong ; Germany is allied to us by blood, 
and Gaul is ready to throw oft' its yoke. Let Syria serve 
them, and Asia and the East, who are used to bow before 
kings; many still live who were born among us before 
tribute was paid to the Romans. The gods are ever 
with the brave." Solemn religious rites hallowed this 
conspiracy, like the League of the Gueux ; like that, it 
craftily wrapped itself in the veil of submissiveness, in 
the majesty of a great name. The cohorts of Civilis 
swear allegiance on the Rhine to Vespasian in Syria, as 
the League did to Philip II. The same arena furnished 
the same plan of defence, the same refuge to despair. 
Both confided their wavering fortunes to a friendly ele- 
ment ; in the same distress Civilis preserves his island, 
as fifteen centuries after him William of Orano^e did the 

• • • • 

town of Leyden — through an artificial inundation. The 
valor of the Batavi disclosed the impotency of the 
world's ruler, as the noble courage of their descendants 
revealed to the whole of Europe the decay of Spanish 
greatness. The same fecundity of genius in tlie generals 
of both times gave to the war a similarly obstinate cou' 
tinuance, and nearly as doubtful an issue; one differ- 
ence, nevertheless, distinguishes them : the Romans and 
Batavians fought humanely, for they did not fight for 




Before we consider the immediate history of this 
great revolution, it will be advisable to go a few steps 
back into the ancient records of the country, and to trace 
the origin of that constitution which we find it possessed 
of at the time of this remarkable change. 

The first appearance of this people in the history of 
the world is the moment of its fall; their conquerors 
first gave them a political existence. The extensive 
region which is bounded by Germany on the east, on the 
south by France, on the north and northwest by the 
North Sea, and which we comprehend under the general 
name of the Netherlands, was, at the time when the 
Romans invaded Gaul, divided amongst three principal 
nations, all originally of German descent, German insti- 
tutions, and German spirit. The Rhine formed its 
boundaries. On the left of the river dwelt the Belgae, 
on its right the Frisii, and the Batavi on the island which 
its two arms then formed with the ocean. All these sev- 
eral nations were sooner or later reduced into subjection 
by the Romans, but the conquerors themselves give us 
the most glorious testimony to their valor. The Belgae, 
writes Caesar, were the only people amongst the Gauls 
who repulsed the invasion of the Teutones and Cimbri. 
The Batavi, Tacitus tells us, surpassed all the tribes or 
the Rhine in bravery. This fierce nation paid its tribute 
in soldiers, and was reserved by its conquerors, like arrow 
and sword, only for battle. The Romans themselves 
acknowledged the Batavian horsemen to be their best 
cavalry. Like the Swiss at this day, they formed for a 
long time the body-guard of the Roman Emperor ; their 
wild courage terrified the Dacians, as they saw them, in 
full armor, swimmino^ across the Danube. The Batavi 
accompanied Agricola in his expedition agamst Britain, 
and helped him to conquer that island. The Frieses 
were, of all, the last subdued, and the first to regain 


their liberty. The morasses among which they dwelt 
attracted the conquerors later, and enhanced the price of 
conquest. The Koman Drusus, who made war in these 
regions, had a canal cut from the Rhine into the Flevo, 
the present Zuyder Zee, through which the Roman fleet 
penetrated into the North Sea, and from thence, entering 
the mouths of the Ems and the Weser, found an easy 
passage into the interior of Germany. 

Through four centuries we find Batavian troops in the 
Roman armies, but after the time of Honorius their name 
disappears from history. Presently we discover their 
island overrun by the Franks, who again lost themselves 
in the adjoining country of Belgium. The Frieses threw 
off the yoke of their distant and powerless rulers, and 
again appeared as a free, and even a conquering people, 
who governed themselves by their own customs and a 
remnant of Roman laws, and extended their limits be- 
yond the left bank of the Rhine. Of all the provinces 
of the Netherlands, Friesland especially had suffered the 
least from the irruptions of strange tribes and foreign 
customs, and for centuries retained traces of its original 
institutions, of its national spirit and manners, which 
have not, even at the present day, entirely disappeared. 

The epoch of the immigration of nations destroyed 
the original form of most of these tribes ; other mixed 
races arose in their place, with other constitutions. In 
the general irruption the towns and encampments of the 
Romans disappeared, and with them the memorials of 
their wise government, which they had employed the 
natives to execute. The neglected dikes once more 
yielded to the violence of the streams and to the en- 
croachments of the ocean. Those wonders of labor, and 
creations of human skill, the canals, dried up, the rivers 
changed their course, the continent and the sea con- 
founded their olden limits, and the nature of the soil 
changed with its inhabitants. So, too, the connection of 
the two eras seems effaced, and with a new race a new 
history commences. 

The monarchy of the Franks, which arose out of the 
ruins of Roman Gaul, had, in the sixtli and seventh cen- 
turies, seized all the provinces of the Netherlands, and 


planted there the Christian faith. After an obstinate 
war Charles Martel subdued to the French crown Fries- 
land, the last of all the free provinces, and by his vic- 
tories paved a way for the gospel. Charlemagne united 
all these countries, and formed of them one division of 
the mighty empire which he had constructed out of Ger- 
many, France, and Lombardy. As under his descend- 
ants this vast dominion was again torn into fragments, 
so the Netherlands became at times German, at others 
French, or then again Lotheringian Provinces; and at 
last we find them under both the names of Friesland and 
Lower Lotheringia. 

With the Franks the feudal system, the offspring of 
the North, also came into these lands, and here, too, as in 
all other countries, it degenerated. The more powerful 
vassals gradually made themselves independent of the 
crown, and the royal governors usurped the countries 
they were appointed to govern. But the rebellious vas- 
sals could not maintain their usurpations without the aid 
of their own dependants, whose assistance they were com- 
pelled to purchase by new concessions. At the same time 
the church became powerful through pious usurpations and 
donations, and its abbey lands and episcopal sees acquired 
an independent existence. Thus were the Netherlands in 
the tenth, eleventh, twelftli, and thirteenth centuries split 
up into several small sovereignties, whose possessors did 
homage at one time to the German Emperor, at another 
to the kings of France. By purchase, marriages, legacies, 
and also by conquest, several of these provinces were 
often united under one suzerain, and thus in the fifteenth 
century we see the house of Burgundy in possession of 
the chief part of the Netherlands. With more or less 
right Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, had united as 
many as eleven provinces under his authority, and to 
these his son, Charles the Bold, added two others, acquired 
by force of arms. Thus imperceptibly a new state arose 
in Europe, \vhich wanted nothing but the name to be the 
most flourishing kingdom in this quarter of the globe. 
These extensive possessions made the Dukes of Burgundy 
formidable neighbors to France, and tempted the restless 
spirit of Charles the Bold to devise a scheme of conquest, 


embracing the whole line of country from the Zuyder 
Zee and the mouth of the Rhine down to Alsace. The 
almost inexhaustible resources of this prince justify in 
some measure this bold project. A formidable army 
threatened to carry it into execution. Already Switzer- 
land trembled for her liberty; but deceitful fortune 
abandoned him in three terrible battles, and the infat- 
uated hero was lost in the melee of the living and the 

The sole heiress of Charles the Bold, Maria, at once 
the richest princess and the unhappy Helen of that time, 
whose wooing brought misery on her inheritance, was 
now the centre of attraction to the whole known world. 
Among her suitors appeared two great princes, King 
Louis XI. of France, for his son, the young Dauphin, and 
Maximilian of Austria, son of the Emperor Frederic III. 
The successful suitor was to become the most powerful 
prince in Europe ; and now, for the first time, this quarter 
of the globe began to fear for its balance of power. 
Louis, the more powerful of the two, w^as ready to back 
his suit by force of arms ; but the people of the Nether- 
lands, who disposed of the hand of their princess, passed 
by this dreaded neighbor, and decided in favor of Maxi- 
milian, whose more remote territories and more limited 
power seemed less to threaten the liberty of their country. 
A deceitful, unfortunate policy, which, through a strange 
dispensation of heaven, only accelerated the melancholy 
fate which it was intended to prevent. 

To Philip the Fair, the son of Maria and Maximilian, a 
Spanish bride brought as her portion that extensive king- 
dom which Ferdinand and Isabella had recently founded ; 
and Charles of Austria, his son, was born lord of the 
kingdoms of Spain, of the two Sicilies, of the New World, 

* A page who had seen him fall a few days after the battle conducted the 
victors to the spot, and saved his remains from an ignominious oblivion. 
His body was dragged from out of a pool, in which it was fast frozen, 
naked, and so disfigured with wounds that with great difiBculty he was recog- 
nized, by the Avell-known deficiency of some of his teeth, and by remarkably 
long finger-nails. But that, not^vithstanding the mai-ks, there were still 
incredulous people who doubted his death, and looked for his reappearance, 
is proved by the missive in which Louis XI. called upon the Burgundian 
States to retixrn to their allegiance to the CroAvn of France. " If," the jjas- 
sage runs, " Duke Charles should still be living, you shall be released from 
your oath to me." Comines, t. iii., Preuves des Memoires, 495, 497. 


and of tlie Xetherlands. In the latter country the com- 
monalty emancipated themselves much earlier than in 
other feudal states, and quickly attained to an independ- 
ent political existence. The favorable situation of the 
country on the North Sea and on great navigable 
rivers early awakened the spirit of commerce, which 
rapidly peopled the towns, encouraged industry and the 
arts, attracted foreigners, and diffused prosperity and 
affluence among them. However contemptuously the 
warlike policy of those times looked down upon every 
peaceful and useful occupation, the rulers of the country 
could not fail altogether to perceive the essential advan- 
tages they derived from such pursuits. The increasing 
population of their territories, the different imposts 
which they extorted from natives and foreigners under 
the various titles of tolls, customs, highway rates, escort 
money, bridge tolls, market fees, escheats, and so forth, 
were too valuable considerations to allow them to remain 
indifferent to the sources from which they were derived. 
Their own rapacity made them promoters of trade, and, as 
often happens, barbarism itself rudely nursed it, until at 
last a healthier policy assumed its place. In the course of 
time they invited the Lombard merchants to settle among 
them, and accorded to the towns some valuable privi- 
leges and an independent jurisdiction, by which the latter 
acquired uncommon extraordinary credit and influence. 
The numerous wars which the counts and dukes carried 
on with one another, or with their neighbors, made them 
in some measure dependent on the good-will of the towns, 
who by their wealth obtained weight and consideration, 
and for the subsidies which they afforded failed not to 
extort important privileges in return. These privileges 
of the commonalties increased as the crusades with their 
expensive equipment augumented the necessities of the 
nobles ; as a new road to Europe was opened for the pro- 
ductions of the East, and as wide-spreading luxury created 
new wants to their princes. Thus as early as the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries we find in tliese lands a mixed form 
of government, in which the prerogative of the sovereign 
is greatly limited by the privileges of the estates; that is 
to say, of the nobility, the clergy, and the municipalities. 


These, under the name of States, assembled as often as 
the wants of the province required it. Without their 
consent no new laws were valid, no war could be carried 
on, and no taxes levied, no change made in the coinage, 
and no foreigner admitted to any office of governmento 
All the provinces enjoyed these privileges in common ; 
others were peculiar to the various districts. The supreme 
government was hereditary, but the son did not enter on 
the rights of his father before he had solemnly sworn to 
maintain the existing constitution. 

Necessity is the first lawgiver; all the wants which had 
to be met by this constitution were originally of a com- 
mercial nature. Thus the whole constitution was 
founded on commerce, and the laws of the nation were 
adapted to its pursuits. The last clause, which excluded 
foreigners from all offices of trust, was a natural conse- 
quence of the preceding articles. So complicated and 
artificial a relation between the sovereign and his people, 
which in many provinces was further modified according 
to the peculiar wants of each, and frequently of some 
single city, required for its maintenance the liveliest zeal 
for the liberties of the country, combined with an intimate 
acquaintance with them. From a foreigner neither could 
well be expected. This law, besides, was enforced recip- 
rocally in each particular province ; so that in Brabant 
no Fleming, in Zealand no Hollander, could hold office ; 
and it continued in force even after all these provinces 
were united under one government. 

Above all others, Brabant enjoyed the highest degree 
of freedom. Its privileges were esteemed so valuable 
that many mothers from the adjacent provinces removed 
thither about the time of their accouchment, in order to 
entitle their children to participate, by birth, in all the 
immunities of that favored country ; just as, says Strada, 
one improves the plants of a rude climate by removing 
them to the soil of a milder. 

After the House of Burgundy had united several prov- 
inces under its dominion, the separate provincial assem- 
blies which, up to that time, had been independent 
tribunals, were made subject to a supreme court at 
Maliues, which incorporated the various judicatures into 


one body, and decided in the last resort all civil and crim- 
inal appeals. The separate independence of the j^rovinces 
was thus abolished, and the supreme power vested in the 
senate at Malines. 

After the death of Charles the Bold the states did not 
neglect to avail themselves of the embarassment of their 
duchess, who, threatened by France, was consequently in 
their power. Holland and Zealand compelled her to sign 
a great charter, which secured to them the most impor- 
tant sovereign rights. The people of Ghent carried tlieir 
insolence to such a pitch that they arbitrarily dragged the 
favorites of Maria, who had the misfortune to displease 
them, before their own tribunals, and beheaded them 
before the eyes of that princess. During the short gov- 
ernment of the Duchess Maria, from her father's death 
to her marriage, the commons obtained powers which few 
free states enjoyed. After her death her husband, Maxi- 
milian, illegally assumed the government as guardian of 
his son. Offended by this invasion of their rights, the 
estates refused to acknowledge his authority, and could 
only be brought to receive him as a viceroy for a stated 
period, and under conditions ratified by oath. 

Maximilian, after he became Roman Emperor, fancied 
that he might safely venture to violate the constitution. 
He imposed extraordinary taxes on the provinces, gave 
official appointments to Burgundians and Germans, and 
introduced foreign troo]}s into the provinces. But the 
jealousy of these republicans kept pace with the power of 
their regent. As he entered Bruges with a large retinue 
of foreigners, the people flew to arms, made themselves 
masters of his person, and placed him in confinement in 
the castle. In spite of the intercession of the Imperial 
and Roman courts, he did not again obtain his freedom 
until security had been given to the people on all the 
disputed points. 

The security of life and property arising from mild 
laws, and an equal administration of justice, had encour- 
aged activity and industry. In continual contest with 
the ocean and rapid rivers, which poured their violence 
on the neighboring lowlands, and whose force it was re- 
quisite to break by embankments and canals, this people 


had early learned to observe the natural objects around 
theoi ; by industry and perseverance to defy an element 
of superior power ; and like the Egyptian, instructed by 
his Nile, to exercise their inventive genius and acuteness 
in self-defence. The natural fertility of their soil, which 
favored agriculture and the breeding of cattle, tended at 
the same time to increase the population. Their happy 
position on the sea and the great navigable rivers of Ger- 
many and France, many of which debouched on their 
coasts ; the numerous artificial canals w^hich intersected 
the land in all directions, imparted life to navigation ; 
and the facility of internal communication between the 
provinces, soon created and fostered a commercial spirit 
among these people. 

The neighboring coasts, Denmark and Britain, were the 
first visited by their vessels. The English wool which 
they brought back employed thousands of industrious 
hands in Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp; and as early as 
the middle of the twelfth century cloths of Flanders were 
extensively worn in France and Germany. In the eleventh 
century we find ships of Friesland in the Belt, and even 
in the Levant. This enterprising people ventured, with- 
out a compass, to steer under the North Pole round to 
the most northerly point of Russia. From the Wendish 
towns the Netherlands received a share in the Levant 
trade, which, at that time, still passed from the Black Sea 
through the Russian territories to the Baltic. When, in 
the thirteenth century, tliis trade began to decline, the 
Crusades having opened a new road through the Mediter- 
ranean for Indian mercliandise, and after the Italian 
towns had usurped this lucrative branch of commerce, 
and the great Hanseatic League had been formed in Ger- 
many, the Netherlands became the most important empo- 
rium between the north and south. As yet the use of the 
compass was not general, and the merchantmen sailed 
slowly and laboriously along the coasts. The ports on 
the Baltic were, during the winter months, for the most 
part frozen and inaccessible. Ships, therefore, which 
could not well accomplish within the year the long voyage 
from the Mediterranean to the Belt, gladly availed them- 
selves of harbors which lay half-way between the twc, 


With an immense continent behind them with which 
navigable streams kept up their communication, and 
towards the west and north open to the ocean by commo- 
dious harbors, this country appeared to be expressly 
formed for a place of resort for different nations, and 
for a centre of commerce. The principal towns of the 
Netherlands were established marts. Portuguese, Span- 
iards, Italians, French, Britons, Germans, Danes, and 
Swedes thronged to them with the produce of every 
country in the world. Competition insured cheapness; 
industry was stimulated as it found a ready market for 
its productions. With the necessary exchange of money 
arose the commerce in bills, which opened a new and 
fruitful source of wealth. The princes of the country, ac- 
quainted at last with their true interest, encouraged the 
merchant by important immunities, and neglected not to 
protect their commerce by advantageous treaties with 
foreign powers. When, in the fifteenth century, several 
provinces were united under one rule, they discontinued 
their private wars, which had proved so injurious, and 
their separate interests were now more intimately con- 
nected by a common government. Their commerce and 
affluence prospered in the lap of a long peace, which the 
formidable power of their princes extorted from the 
neighboring monarchs. The Burgundian flag was feared 
in every sea, the dignity of their sovereign gave support 
to their undertakings, and the enterprise of a private 
individual became the affair of a powerful state. Such 
vigorous protection soon placed them in a position even 
to renounce the Hanseatic League, and to pursue this 
daring enemy through every sea. The Hanseatic mer- 
chants, against whom the coasts of Spain were closed, 
were compelled at last, however reluctantly, to visit the 
Flemish fairs, and purchase their Spanish goods in the 
markets of the Netherlands. 

Bruges, in Flanders, Avas, in the fourteenth and fif- 
teenth centuries, the central point of the whole commerce 
of Europe, and the great market of all nations. In the 
year 1468 a hundred and fifty merchant vessels were 
counted entering the harbor of Sluys at one time. Be- 
sides the rich factories of the Hanseatic League, there 


were here fifteen trading companies, with their counting- 
houses, and many factories and merchants' families from 
every European country. Here was established the mar- 
ket of all northern products for the south, and of all 
southern and Levantine products for the north. These 
passed through the Sound, and up the Rhine, in Hanseatic 
vessels to Upper Germany, or were transported by land- 
carriage to Brunswick and Luneburg. 

As in the common course of human affairs, so here also 
a licentioas luxury followed prosperity. The seductive 
example of Philip the Good could not but accelerate its 
approach. The court of the Burgundian dukes was the 
most voluptuous and magnificent in Europe, Italy itself not 
excepted. The costly dress of the higher classes, which 
afterwards served as patterns to the Spaniards, and event- 
ually, with other Burgundian customs, passed over to the 
court of Austria, soon descended to the lower orders, and 
the meanest citizen nursed his person in velvet and silk.* 

Comines, an author who travelled through the Nether- 
lands about the middle of the fifteenth century, tells us 
that pride had already attended their prosperity. The 
pomp and vanity of dress was carried by both sexes to 
extravagance. The luxury of the table had never reached 
so great a height among any other people. The immoral 
assemblage of both sexes at bathing-places, and such other 
places of reunion for pleasure and enjoyment, had ban- 
ished all shame — and we are not here speaking of the 
usual luxuriousness of the higher ranks ; the females of 
the common class abandoned themselves to such extrava- 
gances without limit or measure. 

But how much more cheering to the philanthropist is 

* Philip the Good was too profuse a prince to amass treasures ; never- 
theless Charles the Bold found accumulated among Lis effects, a greater 
store of table services, jewels, carpets, and linen than three rich princedoms 
of that time together possessed, and over and above all a treasure of three 
hundred thousand dollars in ready money. The riches of this prince, and of 
the Burgundian people, lay exposed on the battle-fields of Granson, ]Murten, 
and Nancy. Here a Swiss soldier drew from the finger of Charles the Bold 
that celebrated diamond which was long esteemed the largest in Europe, 
which even now sparkles in the crown of France as the second in size, but 
v/hich the unwitting finder sold for a florin. The Swiss exchanged the silver 
they found for tin, and the gold for copper, and tore into pieces the costly 
tents of cloth of gold. The value of the spoil of silver, gold, and jewels 
which was taken has been estimated at three millions. Charles and his array 
had advanced to the combat, not like foes who purpose battle, but like con* 
querors who adorn themselves after victory. 


this extravagance than the miserable frugality of want, 
and the barbarous virtues of ignorance, which at that 
time oppressed nearly the whole of Europe ! The Bur- 
gundian era shines pleasingly forth from those dark ages, 
like a lovely spring day amid the showers of February, 
But this flourishing condition tempted the Flemish towns 
at last to their ruin ; Ghent and Bruges, giddy with lib- 
erty and success, declared war against Philip the Good, 
the ruler of eleven provinces, which ended as unfortu- 
nately as it was j^resumptuously commenced. Ghent 
alone lost many thousand men in an engagement near 
Havre, and was compelled to appease the wrath of the 
victor by a contribution of four hundred thousand gold 
florins. All the municipal functionaries, and two thousand 
of the principal citizens, went, stripped to their shirts, 
barefooted, and with heads uncovered, a mile out of the 
town to meet the duke, and on their knees supplicated 
for pardon. On this occasion they were deprived of 
several valuable privileges, an irreparable loss for their 
future commerce. In the year 1482 they engaged in a 
war, with no better success, against Maximilian of Aus- 
tria, with a view to deprive him of the guardianship 
of his son, which, in contravention of his charter, he had 
unjustly assumed. In 1487 the town of Bruges placed 
the archduke himself in confinement, and put some of his 
most eminent ministers to death. To avenge his son the 
Emperor Frederic III. entered their territory with an 
army, and, blockading for ten years the harbor of Sluys, 
put a stop to their entire trade. On this occasion Am- 
sterdam and Antwerp, whose jealousy had long been 
roused by the flourishing condition of the Flemish towns, 
lent him the most important assistance. The Italians 
began to bring their own silk-stuffs to Antwerp for sale, 
and the Flemish cloth- workers likewise, who had settled 
in England, sent their goods thither; and thus the town 
of Bruges lost two important branches of trade. The 
Hanseatic League had long been offended at their over- 
weening pride ; and it now left them and removed its 
factory to Antwerp. In the year 1516 all the foreign 
merchants left the town except only a few Spaniards; 
but its prosperity faded as slowly as it had bloomed. 


Antwerp received, in the sixteenth century, the trade 
which the luxuriousness of the Flemish towns had ban- 
ished; and under the government of Charles V. Antwerp 
was the most stirring and splendid city in the Christian 
world. A stream like the Scheldt, whose broad mouth, 
in the immediate vicinity, shared with the North Sea the 
ebb and flow of the tide, and could carry vessels of 
the largest tonnage under the walls of Antwerp, made 
it the natural resort for all vessels which visited that 
coast. Its free fairs attracted men of business from all 
countries.* The industry of the nation had, in the begin- 
ning of this century, reached its greatest height. The 
culture of grain, flax, the breeding of cattle, the chase, and 
fisheries, enriched the peasant; arts, manufactures, and 
trade gave wealth to the burghers. Flemish and Braban- 
tine manufactures were long to be seen in Arabia, Persia, 
and India. Their ships covered the ocean, and in the 
Black Sea contended with the Genoese for supremacy. 
It was the distinctive characteristic of the seaman of the 
Netherlands that he made sail at all seasons of the year, 
and never laid up for the winter. 

When the new route by the Cape of Good Hope was 
discovered, and the East India trade of Portugal under- 
mined that of the Levant, the Netherlands did not feel 
the blow which was inflicted on the Italian republics. 
The Portuguese established their mart in Brabant, and 
the spices of Calicut were displayed for sale in the mar- 
kets of Antwerp. Hither poured the West Indian mer- 
chandise, with which the indolent pride of Spain repaid 
tlie industry of the Netherlands. The East Indian market 
attracted the most celebrated commercial houses from 
Florence, Lucca, and Genoa ; and the Fuggers and Wel- 
sers from Augsburg. Here the Hanse towns brought the 
wares of the north, and here the English company had a 
factory. Here art and nature seemed to expose to view 
all their riches ; it was a splendid exhibition of the works 
of the Creator and of the creature. 

Their renown soon diffused itself through the world. 
Even a company of Turkish merchants, towards the end 

* Two such fairs lasted forty days, and all the goods sold there wer« 
duty free. 


of this century, solicited permission to settle here, and to 
supply the products of the East by way of Greece. With 
the trade in goods they held also the exchange of money. 
Their bills passed current in the farthest parts of the 
globe. Antwerp, it is asserted, then transacted more 
extensive and more important business in a single month 
than Venice, at its most flourishing period, in two whole 

In the year 1491 the Hanseatic League held its solemn 
meetings in this town, which had formerly assembled in 
Lubeck alone. In 1531 the exchange was erected, at that 
time the most splendid in all Europe, and which fulfilled 
its proud inscription. The town now reckoned one hun- 
dred thousand inhabitants. The tide of human beings, 
which incessantly poured into it, exceeds all belief. Be- 
tween two hundred and two hundred and fifty ships were 
often seen loading at one time in its harbor; no day 
passed on which the boats entering inwards and outwards 
did not amount to more than five hundred ; on market 
days the number amounted to eight or nine hundred. 
Daily more than two hundred carriages drove through its 
gates ; above two thousand loaded wagons arrived every 
week from Germany, France, and Lorraine, without reck- 
oning the farmers' carts and corn-vans, which were seldom 
less than ten thousand in number. Thirty thousand hands 
were employed by the English company alone. The mar- 
ket dues, tolls, and excise brought millions to the govern- 
ment annually. We can form some idea of the resources 
of the nation from the fact that the extraordinary taxes 
which they were obliged to pay to Charles V. towards 
his numerous wars were computed at forty millions of gold 

For this aflluence the Netherlands were as much in- 
debted to their liberty as to the natural advantages of 
their country. Uncertain laws and the despotic sway 
of a rapacious prince would quickly have blighted all the 
blessings which propitious nature had so abundantly lav- 
ished on them. The inviolable sanctity of the laws can 
alone secure to the citizen the fruits of his industry, and 
inspire him with that happy confidence which is the souL 
of all activity. < 


The genius of this people, developed by the spirit of 
commerce, and by the intercourse with so many nations, 
shone in useful inventions ; in the lap of abundance and 
liberty all the noble arts were carefully cultivated and 
carried to perfection. From Italy, to which Cosmo de 
Medici had lately restored its golden age, painting, 
architecture, and the arts of carving and of engraving on 
copper, were transplanted into the Netherlands, where, 
in a new soil, they flourished with fresh vigor. The 
Flemish school, a daughter of the Italian, soon vied with 
its mother for the prize ; and, in common with it, gave 
laws to the whole of Euroj^e in the fine arts. The manu- 
factures and arts, on which the Netherlanders principally 
founded their prosperity, and still partly base it, require 
no particular enumeration. The weaving of tapestry, 
oil painting, the art of painting on glass, even pocket- 
watches and sun-dials were, as Guicciardini asserts, origin- 
ally invented in the Netherlands. To them we are 
indebted for the improvement of the compass, the points 
of which are still known by Flemish names. About the 
year 1430 the invention of typography is ascribed to 
Laurence Koster, of Haarlem ; and whether or no^ he is 
entitled to this honorable distinction, certain it is that 
the Dutch were among the first to engraft this useful art 
among them; and fate ordained that a century later it 
should reward its country with liberty. The people of 
the Netherlands united with the most fertile genius for 
inventions a happy talent for improving the discoveries 
of others; there are probably few mechanical arts and 
manufactures which they did not either produce or at 
least carry to a higher degree of perfection. 


Up to this time these provinces had formed the most 
enviable state in Europe. Not one of the Burgundian 
dukes had ventured to indulge a thought of overturning 
the constitution ; it had remained sacred even to the 
daring spirit of Charles the Bold, while he was preparing 
fetters for foreign liberty. All these princes grew up 
with no higher hope than to be the heads of a republic, 

3— Schiller Vol. VII. 


and none of their territories afforded them experience of 
a higher authority. Besides, these pi'inces possessed 
nothing but what the Netherlands gave them ; no armies 
but those which the nation sent into the field ; no riches 
but what the estates granted to them. Now all was 
changed. The Netherlands had fallen to a master who 
had at his command other instruments and other resources, 
who could arm against them a foreign power.* 

Charles V. Avas an absolute monarch m his Spanish 
dominions ; in the Netherlands he was no more than the 
first citizen. In the southern portion of his empire he 
might have learned contempt for the rights of individuals ; 
here he was taught to respect them. The more he there 

* The unnatural union of two such different nations as the Belgians and 
Spaniards could not possibly be prosperous. I cannot here refrain from 
quoting the comparison which Grotius, in energetic language, has drawn 
between the two, "With the neighboring nations," says he, *' the people of 
the Netherlands could easily maintain a good understanding, for they were 
of a similar origin with themselves, and had grown up in the same manner. 
But the people of Spain and of the Netherlands differed in almost every 
respect from one another, and therefore, when they were brought together, 
clashed the more violently. Both had for many centuries been distinguished 
in war, only the latter had, in luxurious repose, become disused to arms, 
Avhile the former had been inured to war in the Italian and African cam- 
paigns ; the desire of gain made the Belgians more inclined to peace, but 
not less sensitive of offence. No people were more free from the lust of 
conquest, but none defended its owu more zealously. Hence the numerous 
towns, closely pressed together in a confined tract of country ; densely 
crowded with a foreign and native population ; fortified near the sea and the 
great rivers. Hence for eight centuries after the northern immigration 
foreign arms could not prevail against them. Spain, on the contrary, often 
changed its masters ; and when at last it fell into the hands of the Goths, its 
character and its manners had suffered more or less from each new con- 
queror. The people thus formed at last out of these several admixtures is 
described as patient in labor, imperturbable in danger, eiually eager for 
riches and honor, proud of itself even to contempt of others, devout and 
grateful to strangers for any act of kindness, but also revengeful, and of such 
ungovernable passions in victory as so regard neither conscience nor honor 
in the case of an enemy. All this is foreign to the character of the Belgian, 
who is astute but not insidious, who, placed midway between France and 
Germany, combines in moderation the faults and good qualities of both. He 
is not easily to be imposed upon, nor is he to be insulted with impunity. In 
veneration for the Deity, too, he does not yield to the Spaniard ; the arms of 
the Northmen could not make him apostatize from Christianity when he had 
once professed it. No opinion which the church condemns had, up to this 
time, empoisoned the purity of his faith. Nay, his pious extravagance went 
so far that it became requisite to curb by laws the rapacity of his clergy. 
In both people loyalty to their rulers is equally innate, with this difference, 
that the Belgian places the law above kings. Of all the Spaniards the 
Castilians require to be governed with the most caution ; but the liberties 
which they arrogate for themselves they do not willingly accord to others. 
Hence the difficvilt task to their common ruler, so to distribute his attention 
and care between the two nations that neither the preference shown to the 
Castilian should offend the Belgian, nor the equal treatment of the Belgian 
affront the haughty spirit of the Castilian." — Grotii Annal. Belg. L. 1. 4. 
5. seq. 


tasted the pleasures of unlimited power, and the higher 
he raised his opinion of his own greatness, the more reluc- 
tant he must have felt to descend elsewhere to the ordi- 
nary level of humanity, and to tolerate any check upon 
his arbitrary authority. It requires, indeed, no ordinary 
degree of virtue to abstain from warring against the 
power which imposes a curb on our most cherished 

The superior power of Charles awakened at the same 
time in the Netherlands that distrust which always accom- 
panies inferiority. Never were they so alive to their 
constitutional rights, never so jealous of the royal preroga- 
tive, or more observant in their proceedings. Under his 
reign we see the most violent outbreaks of republican 
spirit, and the pretensions of the people carried to an 
excess which nothing but the increasing encroachments 
of the royal power could in the least justify. A sover- 
eign will always regard the freedom of the citizen as an 
alienated fief, which he is bound to recover. To the citizen 
the authority of a sovereign is a torrent, which, by its 
inundation, threatens to sw^eep away his rights. The 
Belgians sought to protect themselves against the ocean 
by embankments, and against their princes by constitu- 
tional enactments. The whole history of the world is a 
perpetually recurring struggle between liberty and the 
lust of power and possession ; as the history of nature is 
nothing but the contest of the elements and organic 
bodies for space. The Netherlands soon found to their 
cost that they had become but a province of a great mon- 
archy. So long as their former masters had no higher 
aim than to promote their prosperity, their condition 
resembled the tranquil ha})piness of a secluded family, 
whose head is its ruler. Charles V. introduced them 
upon the arena of the political w^orld. They now formed 
a member of that gigantic body which the ambition of 
an individual employed as his instrument. They ceased 
to have their own good for their aim ; the centre of their 
existence was transported to the soul of their ruler. As 
his whole government was but one tissue of plans and 
mancruvres to advance his power, so it was, above all 
tilings, necessary that he should be completely master of 


the various limbs of his mighty empire in order to more 
them effectually and suddenly. It was impossible, there- 
fore, for him to embarrass himself with the tiresome 
mechanism of their interior political organization, or to 
extend to their peculiar privileges the conscientious respect 
which their republican jealousy demanded. It was expe- 
dient for him to facilitate the exercise of their powers by 
concentration and unity. The tribunal at Malines had 
been under his predecessor an independent court of judi- 
cature ; he subjected its decrees to the revision of a royal 
council, which he established in Brussels, and which was 
the mere oru^an of his will. He introduced foreisfners 
into the most vital functions of their constitution, and 
confided to them the most important offices. These 
men, whose only support was the royal favor, would be 
but bad guardians of privileges which, moreover, were 
little known to them. The ever-increasing expenses of 
his warlike government compelled him as steadily to 
aui>:nient his resources. In disresrard of their most 
sacred privileges he imposed new and strange taxes on 
the provinces. To preserve their olden consideration the 
estates were forced to grant Avhat he had been so modest 
as not to extort ; the whole history of the government of 
this monarch in the Netherlands is almost one continued 
list of imposts demanded, refused, and finally accorded. 
Contrary to the constitution, he introduced foreign troops 
into their territories, directed the recruiting of his armies 
in the provinces, and involved them in wars, which could 
not advance even if they did not injure their interest, 
and to which they had not given their consent. He 
punished the offences of a free state as a monarch; and 
the terrible chastisement of Ghent announced to the 
other provinces the great change which their constitution 
had already undergone. 

The welfare of the country was so far secured as was 
necessary to the political schemes of its master ; the in- 
telligent policy of Charles would certainly not violate 
the salutary regiment of the body whose energies he 
found himself necessitated to exert. Fortunately, the 
opposite pursuits of selfisli ambition, and of disinterested 
philanthropy, often bring about the same end ; and the 


well-being of a state, which a Marcus Aurelius might 
propose to himself as a rational object of pursuit, is oc- 
casionally promoted by an Augustus or a Louis. 

Charles V. was perfectly aware that commerce was 
the strength of the nation, and that the foundation of 
their commerce was liberty. He spared its liberty 
because he needed its strength. Of greater political 
wisdom, though not more just than his son, he adapted 
his principles to the exigencies of time and place, and 
recalled an ordinance in Antwerjp and in Madrid which 
he would under other circumstances have enforced with 
all the terrors of his power. That which makes the reign 
of Charles V. particularly remarkable in regard to the 
Netherlands is the great religious revolution which oc- 
curred under it ; and which, as the principal cause of the 
subsequent rebellion, demands a somewhat circumstantial 
notice. This it was that first brought arbitrary power 
into the innermost sanctuary of the constitution ; taught 
it to give a dreadful specimen of its might ; and, in a 
measure, legalized it, while it placed republican spirit on 
a dano;erous eminence. And as the latter sank into 
anarchy and rebellion monarchical power rose to the 
height of despotism. 

Nothing is more natural than the transition from civil 
liberty to religious freedom. Individuals, as well as com- 
munities, who, favored by a happy political constitution, 
have become acquainted with the rights of man, and ac- 
customed to examine, if not also to create, the law which 
is to govern them ; whose minds have been enlightened 
by activity, and feelings expanded by the enjoyments of 
life ; whose natural courage has been exalted by internal 
security and prosperity ; such men will not easily sur- 
render themselves to the blind domination of a dull arbi« 
trary creed, and will be the first to emancipate themselves 
from its yoke. Another circumstance, however, must 
nave greatly tended to diffuse the new religion in these 
countries. Italy, it might be objected, the seat of the 
greatest intellectual culture, formerly the scene of the 
most violent political factions, where a burning climate 
kindles the blood with the wildest passions — Italy, among 
all the European countries, remained the freest from this 


change. But to a romantic people, whom a warm and 
lovely sky, a luxurious, ever young and ever smiling 
nature, and the multifarious witcheries of art, rendered 
keenly susceptible of sensuous enjoyment, that form of re- 
ligion must naturally have been better adapted, which by 
its splendid pomp captivates the senses, by its mysterious 
enigmas opens an unbounded range to the fancy; and 
which, through the most picturesque forms, labors to in- 
sinuate important doctrines into the soul. On the con- 
trary, to a people whom the ordinary employments of 
civil life have drawn down to an unpoetical reality, who 
live more in plain notions than in images, and who culti^ 
vate their common sense at the expense of their imagina- 
tion — to such a people that creed will best recommend 
itself which dreads not investigation, which lays less stress 
on mysticism than on morals, and which is rather to be 
understood then to be dwelt upon in meditation. In few 
words, the Roman Catholic religion will, on the whole, 
be found more adapted to a nation of artists, the Prot- 
estant more fitted to a nation of merchants. 

On this supposition the new^ doctrines which Luther 
diffused in Germany, and Calvin in Switzerland, must 
have found a congenial soil in the Netherlands. The 
first seeds of it were sown in the Ketherlands by the 
Protestant merchants, who assembled at Amsterdam and 
Antwerp. The German and Swiss troops, which Charles 
introduced into these countries, and the crowd of French, 
German, and English fugitives who, under the protection 
of the liberties of Flanders, sought to escape the sword 
of persecution which threatened them at home, promoted 
their diffusion. A great portion of the Belgian nobility 
studied at that time at Geneva, as the University of 
Louvain was not yet in repute, and that of Douai not yet 
founded. The new tenets publicly taught there were 
transplanted by the students to their various countries. 
In an isolated people these first germs might easily have 
been crushed; but in the market-towns of Holland and 
Brabant, the resort of so many different nations, their 
first growth would escape the notice of government, and 
be accelerated under the veil of obscurity. A difference 
in opinion might easily spring up and gain ground 


amono'st those who already were divided in national 
character, in manners, customs, and laws. Moreover, in 
a country where industry was the most lauded virtue, 
mendicity the most abhorred vice, a slothful body of men, 
like that of the monks, must have been an object of long 
and deep aversion. Hence, the new religion, which 
opposed these orders, derived an immense advantage 
from having the popular opinion on its side. Occasional 
pamphlets, full of bitterness and satire, to which the newly- 
discovered art of printing secured a rapid circulation, 
and several bands of strolling orators, called Rederiker, 
who at that time made the circuit of the provinces, ridi- 
culing in theatrical representations or songs the abuses of 
their times, contributed not a little to diminish respect 
for the Romish Church, and to prepare the people for the 
reception of the new dogmas. 

The first conquests of this doctrine were astonishingly 
rapid. The number of those who in a short time avowed 
themselves its adherents, especially in the northern prov- 
inces, was prodigious ; but among these the foreigners 
far outnumbered the natives. Charles V., who, in this 
hostile array of religious tenets, had taken the side which 
a despot could not fail to take, opposed to the increasing 
torrent of innovation the most effectual remedies. Un- 
happily for the reformed religion political justice was on 
the side of its persecutor. The dam which, for so many 
centuries, had repelled human understanding from truth 
was too suddenly torn away for the outbreaking torrent 
not to overflow its appointed channel. The reviving 
spirit of liberty and of inquiry, which ought to have re- 
mained within the limits of religious questions, began also 
to examine into the rig^hts of kinoes. While in the com- 
mencement iron fetters were justly broken off, a desire 
was eventually shown to rend asunder the most legitimate 
and most indispensable of ties. Even the Holy Scrip- 
tures, which were now circulated everywhere, while they 
imparted light and nurture to the sincere inquirer after 
truth, were the source also whence an eccentric fanaticism 
contrived to extort the virulent poison. The good cause 
had been compelled to choose the evil road of rebellion, 
and the result was what in such cases it ever will be so 


long as men remain men. The bad cause, too, which had 
nothing in common with the good but the employment 
of illegal means, emboldened by this slight point of con- 
nection, appeared in the same company, and was mistaken 
for it. Luther had written against the invocation of 
saints ; every audacious varlet who broke into the 
churches and cloisters, and plundered the altars, called 
himself Lutheran. Faction, rapine, fanaticism, licentious- 
ness robed themselves in his colors ; the most enormous 
offenders, when brought before the judges, avowed them- 
selves his followers. The Reformation had drawn down 
the Roman prelate to a level with fallible humanity ; an 
insane band, stimulated by hunger and want, sought to 
annihilate all distinction of ranks. It was natural that a 
doctrine, which to the state showed itself only in its most 
unfavorable aspect, should not have been able to reconcile 
a monarch who had already so many reasons to extirpate 
it; and it is no wonder, therefore, that he employed 
against it the arms it had itself forced upon him. 

Charles must already have looked upon himself as abso- 
hite in the Netherlands since he did not think it necessary 
to extend to these countries the religious liberty which 
he had accorded to Germany. While, compelled by the 
effectual resistance of the German princes, he assured to 
the former country a free exercise of the new religion, in 
the latter he published the most cruel edicts for its 
repression. By these the reading of the Evangelists and 
Apostles ; all open or secret meetings to which religion 
gave its name in ever so slight a degree ; all conversations 
on the subject, at home or at the table, were forbidden 
under severe penalties. In every province special courts 
of judicature were established to watch oA^er the execution 
of the edicts. Whoever held these erroneous opinions was 
to forfeit his office without regard to his rank. Whoever 
should be convicted of diffusing heretical doctrines, or 
even of simply attending the secret meetings of the 
Reformers, was to be condemned to death, and if a male, 
to be executed by the sword, if a female, buried alive« 
Backsliding heretics were to be committed to the flames. 
Not even the recantation of the offender could annul 
these appalling sentences. Whoever abjured his errors 


gained nothing by his apostacy but at farthest a milder 
kind of death. 

The fiefs of the condemned were also confiscated, con- 
trary to the privileges of the nation, which permitted the 
heir to redeem them for a trifling fine; and in defiance of 
an express and valuable privilege of the citiz(?ns of Hol- 
land, by which they were not to be tried out of their 
province, culprits were conveyed beyond the limits of 
the native judicature, and condemned by foreign tribu- 
nals. Thus did religion guide the hand of despotism to 
attack with its sacred weapon, and without danger or 
opposition, the liberties which were inviolable to the sec- 
ular arm. 

Charles V., emboldened by the fortunate progress of 
his arms in Germany, thought that he might now venture 
on everything, and seriously meditated the introduction 
of the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands. But the 
terror of its very name alone reduced commerce in Ant- 
werp to a standstill. The principal foreign merchants 
prepared to quit the city. All buying and selling ceased, 
the value of houses fell, the employment of artisans 
stopped. Money disappeared from the hands of the cit- 
izen. The ruin of that flourishing commercial city was 
inevitable had not Charles V. listened to the representa- 
tions of the Duchess of Parma, and abandoned this per- 
ilous resolve. The tribunal, therefore, was ordered not 
to interfere with the foreign merchants, and the title of 
Inquisitor was changed unto the milder appellation of 
Spiritual Judge. But in the other provinces that tribunal 
proceeded to rage with the inhuman despotism which 
has ever been peculiar to it. It has been computed that 
during the reign of Charles V. fifty thousand persons 
perished by the hand of the executioner for religion 

When we glance at the violent proceedings of this 
monarch we are quite at a loss to comprehend what it 
was that kept the rebellion within bounds during his 
reign, which broke out with so much violence under his 
successor. A closer investigation will clear up this 
seeming anomaly. Charles's dreaded supremacy in Eu- 
rope had raised the commerce of the Netherlands to a 


height which it had never before attained. The majesty 
of his name opened all harbors, cleared all seas for their 
vessels, and obtained for them the most favorable com- 
mercial treaties with foreign powers. Through him, in 
particular, they destroyed the dominion of the Hanse 
towns in the Baltic. Through him, also, the New World, 
Spain, Italy, Germany, which now shared with them a 
common ruler, were, in a measure, to be considered as 
provinces of their own country, and opened new chan- 
nels for their commerce. He had, moreover, imited the 
remaining six provinces Avith the hereditary states of 
Burgundy, and thus given to them an extent and political 
importance which placed them by the side of the first 
kingdoms of Europe."^ 

By all this he flattered the national pride of this people. 
Moreover, by the incorporation of Gueldres, Utrecht, 
Friesland, and Groningen with these provinces, he put an 
end to the private wars Avhich had so long disturbed their 
commerce ; an unbroken internal peace now allowed 
them to enjoy the full fruits of their industry. Charles 
was therefore a benefactor of this people. At the same 
time, the splendor of his victories dazzled their eyes; the 
glory of their sovereign, which was reflected upon them 
also, had bribed their republican vigilance; while the 
awe-inspiring halo of invincibility w^iich encircled the 
conqueror of Germany, France, Italy, and Africa terri- 
fied the factious. And then, who knows not on how 
much may venture the man, be he a private individual or 
a prince, who has succeeded in enchaining the admiration 
of his fellow-creatures ! His repeated personal visits to 
these lands, Avhich he, according to his own confession, 
visited as often as ten different times, kept the disaffected 

* He had, too, at one time the intention of raising it to a kingdom ; hut 
tie essential points of difference between the provinces, which extended from 
constitution and manners to measures and Aveights, soon made him abandon 
this design. More important was the service wliich he designed them in the 
Burgundian treaty, which settled its relation to the German empire. Accord- 
ing to this treaty the seventeen provinces Avere to contribute to the common 
Avants of the German empire twice as much as an electoral prince ; in case 
of a Turkish war three times as much ; in return for which, however, they 
were to en.ioy the powerful protection of this empire, and not to be injured 
in any of their various privileges. The revolution, which under Charles' son 
altered the political constitution of the provinces, again annulled this cora- 
I)act, which, on account of the trifling advantage that it conferred, deserves 
uo further notice. 


within bounds; the constant exercise of severe and 
prompt justice maintained the awe of the royal power. 
Finally, Charles was born in the Netherlands, and loved 
the nation in whose lap he had grown up. Their man- 
ners pleased him, the simplicity of their character and 
social intercourse formed for him a pleasing recreation 
from the severe Spanish gravity. He spoke their lan- 
guage, and followed their customs in his private life. 
The burdensome ceremonies which form the unnatural 
barriers between king and people were banished from 
Brussels. No jealous foreigner debarred natives from 
access to their prince ; their way to him was through 
their own countrymen, to whom he entrusted his person. 
He spoke much and courteously with them ; his deport- 
ment was engaging, his discourse obliging. These simple 
artifices won for him their love, and while his armies trod 
down their cornfields, while his rapacious imposts dimin- 
ished their property, while his governors oppressed, his 
executioners slaughtered, he secured their hearts by a 
friendly demeanor. 

Gladly would Charles have seen this affection of the 
nation for himself descend upon his son. On this ac- 
count he sent for him in his youth from Spain, and 
showed him in Brussels to his future subjects. On the 
solemn day of his abdication he recommended to him 
these lands as the richest jewel in his crown, and earn- 
estly exhorted him to respect their laws and privileges. 

Philip II. was in all the direct opposite of his father. 
As ambitious as Charles, but with less knowledge of men 
and of the rights of man, he had formed to himself a 
notion of royal authority which regarded men as simply 
the servile instruments of despotic will, and was out- 
raged by every symptom of liberty. Born in Spain, and 
educated under the iron discipline of the monks, he 
demanded of others the same gloomy formality and re- 
serve as marked his own character. The cheerful merri- 
ment of his Flemish subjects was as uncongenial to his 
disposition and temper as their privileges were offensive 
to his imperious will. He spoke no other language but 
the Spanish, endured none but Spaniards about his per- 
son, and obstinately adhered to all their customs. lu 


vain did the loyal ingenuity of the Flemish towns 
through which he passed vie with each other in sol- 
emnizing his arrival with costly festivities.^^ Philip's eye 
remained dark; all the profusion of magnificence, all the 
loud and hearty effusions of the sincerest joy could not 
win from him one approving smile. 

Charles entirely missed his aim by presenting his son 
to the Flemings. They might eventually have endured 
his yoke with less impatience if he had never set his foot 
in their land. But his look forewarned them what they 
had to expect ; his entry into Brussels lost him all hearts. 
The Emperor's gracious affability with his people only 
served to throw a darker shade on the haughty gravity 
of his son. They read in his countenance the destruc- 
tive purpose against their liberties which, even then, he 
already revolved in his breast. Forewarned to find in 
him a tyrant they were forearmed to resist him. 

The throne of the Netherlands was the first which 
Charles Y. abdicated. Before a solemn convention in 
Brussels he absolved the States-General of their oath, 
and transferred their allegiance to King Philip, his son. 
"If my death," addressing the latter, as he concluded, 
"had placed you in possession of these countries, even in 
that case so valuable a bequest would have given me 
great claims on your gratitude. But now that of my 
free will I transfer them to you, now that I die in order 
to hasten your enjoyment of them, I only require of you 
to pay to the people the increased obligation which the 
voluntary surrender of my dignity lays upon you. Other 
princes esteem it a peculiar felicity to bequeath to their 
children the crown which death is already ravishing from 
them. This happiness I am anxious to enjoy during my 
life. I wish to be a spectator of your reign. Few will 
follow my example, as few have preceded me in it. But 
this my deed will be praised if your future life should 
justify my expectations, if you continue to be guided by 
that wisdom Avhich you have hitherto evinced, if you 
remain inviolably attached to the pure faith which is the 
main pillar of your throne. One thing more I have to 

* The town of Antwerp alone expended on an occasion of this kind 
iffro hundred and sixty thousand gold florins. 


add : may Heaven grant you also a son, to whom you 
may transmit your power by choice, and not by 

After the Emperor had concluded his address Philip 
kneeled down before him, kissed his hand, and received 
his paternal blessing. His eyes for the last time were 
moistened with a tear. All present wept. It was an 
hour never to be forgotten. 

This affecting farce was soon followed by another. 
Philip received the homage of the assembled states. He 
took the oath administered in the following words : " I, 
Philip, by the grace of God, Prince of Spain, of the two 
Sicilies, etc., do vow and swear that I will be a good and 
just lord in these countries, counties, and duchies, etc.; 
that I will well and truly hold, and cause to be held, the 
privileges and liberties of all the nobles, towns, commons, 
and subjects which have been conferred upon them by my 
predecessors, and also the customs, usages and rights which 
they now have and enjoy, jointly and severally, and, more- 
over, that I will do all that by law and right pertains to 
a good and just prince and lord, so help me God and alJ 
His Saints." 

The alarm which the arbitrary government of the 
Emperor had inspired, and the distrust of his son, are 
already visible in the formula of this oath, which was 
drawn up in far more guarded and explicit terms than 
that which had been administered to Charles V. himself 
and all the Dukes in Burgundy. Philip, for instance, was 
compelled to swear to the maintenance of their customs 
and usages, what before his time had never been required. 
In the oath which the states took to him no other obedi- 
ence was promised than such as should be consistent 
with the privileges of the country. His officers then 
were only to reckon on submission and support so long as 
they legally discharged the duties entrusted to them. 
Lastly, in this oath of allegiance, Philip is simply styled 
the natural, the hereditary prince, and not, as the Emperor 
had desired, sovereign or lord ; proof enough how little 
confidence was placed in the justice and libel-ality of the 
new sovereign. 



Philip II. received the lordship of the iSTetherlands in 
the brightest period of their prosj^erity. Ho was the first 
of their princes who united them all under his authority. 
They now consisted of seventeen provinces ; the duchies 
of Brabant, Limburg, Luxembourg, and Gueldres, the 
seven counties of Artois, Hainault, Flanders, Xamur, 
Zutphen, Holland, and Zealand, the margravate of Ant« 
werp, and the five lordships of Friesland, Mechlin 
(Malines), Utrecht, Overyssel, and Groningen, which, 
collectively, formed a great and powerful state able to 
contend with monarchies. Higher than it then stood 
their commerce could not rise. The sources of their 
wealth were above the earth's surface, but they were moro 
valuable and inexhaustible and richer than all the mines 
in America. These seventeen provinces which, taken 
together, scarcely comprised tlie fifth jDart of Italy, and 
do not extend beyond three hundred Flemish miles,, 
yielded an annual revenue to their lord, not much inferior 
to that which Britam formerly paid to its kings before 
the latter had annexed so many of the ecclesiastical 
domains to their crown. Three hundred and fifty cities, 
alive with industry and pleasure, many of them fortified 
by their natural position and secure without bulwarks or 
walls ; six thousand three hundred market towns of a larger 
size ; smaller villages, farms, and castles innumerable, im- 
parted to this territory the aspect of one unbroken flourish- 
ing landscape. The nation had now reached the meridian 
of its splendor ; industry and abundance had exalted the 
genius of the citizen, enlightened his ideas, ennobled his 
affections ; every flower of the intellect had opened with 
the flourishing condition of the country. A happy tem- 
perament under a severe climate cooled the ardor of their 
blood, and moderated the rage of their passions ; equanim- 
ity, moderation, and enduring patience, the gifts of a 
northern clime ; integrity, justice, and faith, the necessary 
virtues of their profession ; and the delightful fruits of 
liberty, truth, benevolence, and a patriotic pride were 
Dlended in their character, with a slight admixture of 
human frailties. No people on earth was more easily 


governed by a prudent prince, and none with more 
difficulty by a charlatan or a tyrant. Nowhere was the 
popular voice so infallible a test of good government as 
here. True statesmanship could be tried in no nobler 
school, and a sickly artificial policy had none worse to 

A state constituted like this could act and endure with 
gigantic energy whenever pressing emergencies called 
forth its powers and a skilful and provident administra- 
tion elicited its resources. Charles Y. bequeathed to his 
successor an authority in these provinces little inferior to 
that of a limited monarchy. The prerogative of the crown 
had gained a visible ascendancy over the republican spirit, 
and that complicated machine could now be set in motion, 
almost as certainly and rapidly as the most absolutely 
governed nation. The numerous nobility, formerly so 
powerful, cheerfully accompanied their sovereign in his 
wars, or, on the civil changes of the state, courted the 
approving smile of royality. The crafty policy of the 
crown had created a new and imaginary good, of which 
it was the exclusive dispenser. New passions and new 
ideas of happiness supplanted at last the rude simplicity 
of republican virtue. Pride gave place to vanity, true 
liberty to titles of honor, a needy independence to a lux- 
urious servitude. To oppress or to plunder their native 
land as the absolute satraps of an absolute lord was a 
more powerful allurement for the avarice and ambition 
of the great, than in the general assembly of the state to 
share with the monarch a hundredth part of the supreme 
power. A large portion, moreover, of the nobility were 
deeply sunk in poverty and debt. Charles V. had crippled 
all the most dangerous vassals of the crown by expensive 
embassies to foreign courts, under the specious pretext of 
honorary distinctions. Thus, William of Orange was 
despatched to Germany with the imperial crown, and 
Count Egmont to conclude the marriage contract between 
Philip and Queen Mary. Both also afterwards accom- 
panied the Duke of Alva to France to negotiate the peace 
between the two crowns, and the new alliance of their 
sovereign with Madame Elizabeth. The expenses of 
these jounieys amounted to three hundred thousand 


florins, towards which the king did not contribute a 
single penny. When the Prince of Orange was appointed 
generalissimo in the place of the Duke of Savoy he was 
obliged to defray all the necessary expenses of his office. 
When foreign ambassadors or princes came to Brussels it 
was made incumbent on the nobles to maintain the honor 
of their king, who himself always dined alone, and never 
kept open table. Spanish policy had devised a still more 
ingenious contrivance gradually to impoverish the richest 
families of the land. Every year one of the Castilian 
nobles made his appearance in Brussels, where he dis- 
played a lavish magnificence. In Brussels it was accounted 
an indelible disgrace to be distanced by a stranger in such 
munificence. All vied to surpass him, and exhausted 
their fortunes in this costly emulation, while the Spaniard 
made a timely retreat to his native country, and by the 
frugality of four years repaired the extravagance of one 
year. It was the foible of the Netherlandish nobility to 
contest with every stranger the credit of superior wealth, 
and of this weakness the government studiously availed 
itself. Certainly these arts did not in the sequel pro- 
duce the exact result that had been calculated on; for 
these pecuniary burdens only made the nobility the more 
disposed for innovation, since he who has lost all can only 
be a gainer in the general ruin. 

The Roman Church had ever been a main support of 
the royal power, and it was only natural that it should be 
so. Its golden thne was the bondage of the human intel- 
lect, and, like royalty, it had gained by the ignorance and 
weakness of men. Civil oppression made religion more 
necessary and more dear ; submission to tyrannical power 
prepares the mind for a blind, convenient faith, and the 
hierarchy repaid with usury the services of despotism. In 
the provinces the bishops and prelates were zealous sup- 
porters of royalty, and ever ready to sacrifice the welfare 
of the citizen to the temporal advancement of the church 
and the political interests of the sovereign. 

Numerous and brave garrisons also held the cities in 
awe, which were at the same time divided by religious 
squabbles and factions, and consequently deprived of their 
strongest support — union among themselves. How little. 


therefore, did it require to insure this preponderance of 
Philip's power, and how fatal must have been the folly 
by which it was lost. 

But Philip's authority in these provinces, however great, 
did not surpass the influence which the Spanish monarchy 
at that time enjoyed throughout Europe. No state ven- 
tured to enter the arena of contest with it. France, its 
most dangerous neighbor, weakened by a destructive war, 
and still more by internal factions, which boldly raised 
their heads during the feeble government of a child, was 
advancing rapidly to that unhappy condition which, for 
nearly half a century, made it a theatre of the most enor- 
mous crimes and the most fearful calamities. In England 
Elizabeth could with difiiculty protect her still tottering 
throne against the furious storms of faction, and her new 
church establishment against the insidious arts of the 
Romanists. That country still awaited her miglity call 
before it could emerge from a humble obscurity, and had 
not yet been awakened by the faulty policy of her rival 
to that vigor and energy with which it finally overthrew 
him. The imperial family of Germany was united with 
that of Spain by the double ties of blood and political 
interest ; and the victorious progress of Soliman drew its 
attention more to the east than to the west of Europe. 
Gratitude and fear secured to Philip the Italian princes, 
and his creatures ruled the Conclave. The monarchies 
of the North still lay in barbarous darkness and obscurity, 
or only just began to acquire form and strength, and were 
as yet unrecognized in the political system of Europe. 
The most skilful generals, numerous armies accustomed 
to victory, a formidable marine, and the golden tribute 
from the West Indies, which now first began to come in 
regularly and certainly — what terrible instruments were 
these in the firm and steady hand of a talented prince ! 
Under such auspicious stars did King Philip commence 
his reign. 

Before we see him act we must first look hastily into 
the deep recesses of his soul, and we shall there find a 
key to his political life. Joy and benevolence were wholly 
wanting in the composition of his character. His temper- 
ament, and the gloomy years of his early childhood, 
4 — Schiller Vol. VIL 


denied him the former ; tlie latter could not be imparted 
to him by men who had renounced the sweetest and most 
powerful of the social ties. Two ideas, his own self and 
what was above that self, engrossed his narrow and con- 
tracted mind. Egotism and religion were the contents 
and the title-page of the history of his whole life. He was 
a king and a Christian, and was bad in both characters ; 
he never was a man among men, because he never con- 
descended but only ascended. His belief was dark and 
cruel ; for his divinity was a being of terror, from whom 
he had nothing to hope but everything to fear. To the 
ordinary man the divinity appears as a comforter, as a 
Saviour ; before his mind it was set up as an image of 
fear, a painful, humiliating check to his human omnipo- 
tence. His veneration for this being was so much the 
more profound and deeply rooted the less it extended to 
other objects. He trembled servilely before God because 
God was the only being before whom he had to tremble. 
Charles V. was zealous for religion because religion pro- 
moted his objects. Philip was so because he had real 
faith in it. The former let loose the fire and the sword 
upon thousands for the sake of a dogma, while he himself, 
in the person of the pope, his captive, derided the very 
doctrine for which he had sacrificed so much human 
blood. It was only with repugnance and scruples of con- 
science that Philip resolved on the most just war against 
the pope, and resigned all the fruits of his victory as a 
penitent malefactor surrenders his booty. Tlie Emperor 
was cruel from calculation, his son from impulse. The 
first possessed a strong and enlightened spirit, and was, 
perhaps, so much the worse as a man ; the second was 
narrow-minded and weak, but the more upright. 

Both, however, as it appears to me, might have been 
better men than they actually were, and still, on the 
whole, have acted on the very same principles. What we 
lay to the charge of personarcharacter of an individual is 
very often the infirmity, the necessary imperfection of 
universal human nature. A monarchy so great and so 
powerful was too great a trial for human pride, and too 
mighty a charge for human power. To combine universal 
tappinees with the highest liberty of the individual is the 


sole prerogative of infinite intelligence, which diffuses 
itself omnipresently over all. But what resource has man 
when placed in the position of omnipotence? Man can 
only aid his circumscribed powers by classification ; like 
the naturalist, he establishes certain marks and rules by 
which to facilitate his own feeble survey of the whole, to 
which all individualities must conform. All this is ac- 
complished for him by religion. She finds hope and fear 
planted in every human breast ; by making herself mis- 
tress of these emotions, and directing their affections to a 
single object, she virtually transforms millions of inde- 
pendent beings into one uniform abstract. The endless 
diversity of the human will no longer embarrasses its 
ruler — now there exists one universal good, one universal 
evil, which he can bring forward or withdraw at pleasure, 
and which works in unison with himself even when ab- 
sent. Now a boundary is established before which liberty 
must halt ; a venerable, hallowed line, towards which all 
the various conflicting inclinations of the will must finally 
converge. The common aim of despotism and of priest- 
craft is uniformity, and uniformity is a necessary expe- 
dient of human poverty and imperfection. Philip became 
a greater despot than his father because his mind Avas 
more contracted, or, in other words, he was forced to 
adhere the more scrupulously to general rules the less 
capable he was of descending to special and individual 
exceptions. What conclusion could we draw from these 
principles but that Philip II. could not possibly have any 
higher object of his solicitude than uniformity, both in 
religion and in laws, because without these he could not 
reign ? 

And yet he would have shown more mildness and for- 
bearance in his government if he had entered upon it 
earlier. In the judgment which is usually formed of this 
prince one circumstance does not appear to be sufiiciently 
considered in the history of his mind and heart, which, 
however, in all fairness, ought to be duly Aveighed. Philip 
counted nearly thirty years when he ascended the Spanish 
throne, and the early maturity of his understanding had 
anticipated the period of his majority. A mind like his, 
conscious of its powers, and only too early acquainted 


witli his high expectations, could not brook the yoke of 
ciiildish subjection in which he stood; the superior genius 
of tlie father, and the absolute authority of the autocrat, 
must have weighed heavily on the self-satisfied pride of 
such a son. The share which the former allowed him in the 
government of the empire was just important enough to 
disengage his mind from petty passions and to confirm the 
austere gravity of his character, but also meagre enough 
to kindle a fiercer longing for unlimited power. When 
he actually became possessed of uncontrolled authority it 
had lost the charm of novelty. The sweet intoxication 
of a young monarch in the sudden and early posses- 
sion of supreme power ; that joyous tumult of emotions 
which opens the soul to every softer sentiment, and to 
which humanity has owed so many of the most valuable 
and the most prized of its institutions ; this pleasing 
moment had for him long passed by, or had never existed. 
His character was already hardened when fortune put 
him to this severe test, and his settled principles with- 
stood the collision of occasonal emotion. He had had 
time, during fifteen years, to prepare himself for the 
tjhange ; and instead of youthful dallying with tlie exter- 
nal symbols of his new station, or of losing the morning 
of his government in the intoxication of an idle vanity, 
he remained composed and serious enough to enter at 
once on the full possession of his power so as to revenge 
himself through the most extensive employment of it for 
its having been so long withheld from him. 


Philip II. no sooner saw himself, through the peace of 
Chateau-Cambray, in undisturbed enjoyment of his im- 
mense territory than he turned his whole attention to 
the great work of purifying religion, and verified the fears 
of his Netherlandish subjects. The ordinances which his 
father had caused to be promulgated against heretics were 
renewed in all their rigor, and terrible tribunals, to whom 
nothing but the name of inquisition was wanting, were 
appointed to watch over their execution. But his ])]an 
appeared to him scarcely more than half-fullilled so long 


as lie could not transplant into these countries the Spanish 
Inquisition in its perfect form — a design in which the 
Emperor had already suffered shipwreck. 

The Spanish Inquisition is an institution of a new and 
peculiar kind, which finds no prototype in the whole 
course of time, and admits of comparison with no eccle- 
siastical or civil tribunal. Inquisition had existed from 
the time when reason meddled with what is holy, and 
from the very commencement of scepticism and innova- 
tion ; but it was in the middle of the thirteenth century, 
after some examples of apostasy had alarmed the hierarchy, 
that Innocent III. first erected for it a peculiar tribunal, and 
separated, in an unnatural manner, ecclesiastical superin- 
tendence and instruction from its judicial and retributive 
office. In order to be the more sure that no human sensi- 
bilities or natural tenderness should thwart the stern 
severity of its statutes, he took it out of the hands of the 
bishops and secular clergy, who, by the ties of civil life, 
were still too much attached to humanity for his purpose, 
and consigned it to those of the monks, a half-denatural- 
ized race of beings who had abjured the sacred feelings 
of nature, and were the servile tools of the Koman See. 
The Inquisition was received in Germany, Italy, Spain, 
Portugal, and France ; a Franciscan monk sat as judge in 
the terrible court, which passed sentence on the Templars. 
A few states succeeded either in totally excluding or else 
in subjecting it to civil authority. The Ketherlands had 
remained free from it until the government of Charles V.; 
their bishops exercised the spiritual censorship, and in 
extraordinary cases reference was made to foreign courts 
of inquisition ; by the French provinces to that of Paris, 
by the Germans to that of Cologne. 

But the Inquisition which we are here speaking of 
came from the west of Europe, and was of a different 
origin and form. The last Moorish throne in Granada 
had fallen in the fifteenth centurv, and the false faith of 
the Saracens had finally succumbed before the fortunes 
of Christian it}) . But the gospel was still new, and but 
imperfectly established in this youngest of Christian 
kingdoms, and in the confused mixture of heterogeneous 
laws and manners the religions had become mixed. It is 


true the sword of persecution had driven many thousand 
families to Africa, but a far larger portion, detained by 
the love of climate and home, purchased remission from 
this dreadful necessity by a show of conversion, and con- 
tinued at Christian altars to serve Mohammed and Moses. 
So long as prayers were offered towards Mecca, Granada 
was not subdued ; so long as the new Christian, in the 
retirement of his house, became again a Jew or a Mos- 
lem, he was as little secured to the tiu'one as to the 
Romish See. It was no longer deemed sufficient to com- 
pel a perverse people to adopt the exterior forms of a 
new faith, or to wed it to the victorious church by the 
weak bands of ceremonials ; the object now was to extir- 
pate the roots of an old religion, and to subdue an obsti- 
nate bias which, by the slow operation of centuries, had 
been implanted in their manners, their language, and 
their laws, and by the enduring influence of a paternal 
soil and sky was still maintained in its full extent and 

If the church wished to triumph completely over the 
opposing worship, and to secure her new conquest beyond 
all chance of relapse, it was indispensable that she should 
undermine the foundation itself on which the old relio'ion 
was built. It was necessary to break to pieces the entire 
form of moral character to which it was so closely and 
intiuiately attached. It was requisite to loosen its secret 
roots from the hold they had taken in the innermost 
depths of the soul ; to extinguish all traces of it, both in 
domestic life and in the civil world ; to cause all recollec- 
tion of it to perish; and, if possible, to destroy the very 
susceptibility for its impressions. Country and family, 
conscience and honor, the sacred feelings of society and 
of nature, are ever the first and immediate ties to which 
religion attaches itself; from these it derives while it 
imparts strength. This connection was now to be dis- 
solved ; the old religion was violently to be dissevered 
from the holy feelings of nature, even at the expense of 
the sanctity itself of these emotions. Thus arose that 
Inquisition which, to distinguish it from the more humane 
tribunals of the same name, we usually call the Spanish. 
Its founder was Cardinal Ximenes, a Dominican monk. 


Torqueiiifida was the first who ascended its bloody 
throne, who established its statutes, and forever cursed 
his order with this bequest. Sworn to the degradation 
of the understanding and the murder of intellect, the 
instruments it employed were terror and infamy. Every 
evil passion was in its pay ; its snare was set in every joy 
of life. Solitude itself was not safe from it ; the fear of 
its omnipresence fettered the freedom of the soul in its 
inmost and deepest recesses. It prostrated all the in- 
stincts of human nature before it yielded all the ties 
which otherwise man held most sacred. A heretic for- 
feited all claims upon his race ; the most trivial infidelity 
to his mother church divested him of the ris^hts of his 
nature. A modest doubt in the infallibility of the pope 
met with the punishment of parricide and the infamy of 
sodomy ; its sentences resembled the frightful corruption 
of the plague, which turns the most healthy body into 
rapid putrefaction. Even the inanimate things belonging 
to a heretic were accursed. No destiny could snatch the 
victim of the Inquisition from its sentence. Its decrees 
were carried in force on corpses and on pictures, and the 
grave itself was no as3dum from its tremendous arm. 
The presumptuous arrogance of its decrees could only be 
surpassed by the inhumanity which executed them. By 
cou])ling the ludicrous with the terrible, and by amusing 
the eye with the strangeness of its processions, it weak- 
ened compassion by the gratification of another feeling^ 
it drowned sympathy in derision and contempt. The 
delinquent was conducted with solemn pomp to the place 
of execution, a blood-red flag was displayed before him^ 
the universal clang of all the bells accompanied the pro- 
cession. First came the priests, in the robes of the Mass 
and singing a sacred hymn ; next followed the condemned 
sinner, clothed in a yellow vest, covered with figures oi 
black devils. On his head he wore a paper cap, sup 
mounted by a human figure, around which played lam- 
bent flames of fire, and ghastly demons flitted. The 
image of the crucified Saviour was carried before, but 
turned away from the eternally condemned sinner, for 
whom salvation was no longer available. His mortal 
body belonged to the material fire, his immortal soul to 


the flames of hell. A gag closed his mouth, and pre- 
vented him from alleviating his pain by lamentations, 
from awakening compassion by his affecting tale, and 
from divulging the secrets of the holy tribunal. He was 
followed by the clergy in festive robes, by the magis- 
trates, and the nobility; the fathers who had been his 
judges closed the aw^ful procession. It seemed like a 
solemn funeral procession, but on looking for the corpse 
on its w^ay to the grave, behold ! it was a living body 
whose groans are now to afford such shuddering enter- 
tainment to the people. The executions were generally 
held on the high festivals, for which a number of such 
unfortunate sufferers were reserved in the prisons of the 
holy house, in order to enhance the rejoicing by the mul- 
titude of the victims, and on these occasions the king 
himself was usually present. He sat with uncovered 
head, on a lower chair than that of the Grand Inquisitor, 
to whom, on such occasions, he yielded precedence; who, 
then, would not tremble before a tribunal at which 
majesty must humble itself? 

The great revolution in the church accomplished by 
Luther and Calvin renewed the causes to which this tri- 
bunal owed its first origin ; and that which, at its com- 
mencement, was invented to clear the petty kingdom of 
Granada from the feeble remnant of Saracens and Jew^s 
was now required for the whole of Christendom. A\) 
the Inquisitions in Portugal, Italy, Germany, and France 
adopted the form of the Spanish ; it followed Europeans 
to the Indies, and established in Goa a fearful tribunal, 
whose inhuman proceedings make us shudder even at the 
bare recital. Wherever it planted its foot devastation 
followed ; but in no part of the world did it rage so vio- 
lently as in Spain. The victims are forgotten whom it 
immolated ; the human race renews itself, and the lands, 
too, flourish again which it has devastated and depopula- 
ted by its fury ; but centuries will elapse before its traces 
disappear from the Spanish character. A generous and 
enlightened nation has been stopped by it on its road to 
perfection ; it has banished genius from a region where it 
was indigenous, and a stillness like that which hangs 
over the grave has been left in the mind of a people who, 


beyond most others of our world, were framed for hap. 
piness and enjoyment. 

The first Inquisitor in Brabant was appointed by 
Charles V. in the year 1522. Some priests were asso- 
ciated with him as coadjutors ; but he himself was a lay- 
man. After the death of Adrian VI., his successor, 
Clement VII., appointed three Inquisitors for all the 
Netherlands ; and Paul III. again reduced them to two, 
which number continued until the commencement of the 
troubles. In the year 1530, with the aid and approba- 
tion of the states, the edicts against heretics were pro= 
mulgated, which formed the foundation of all that fol- 
lowed, and in which, also, express mention is made of the 
Inquisition. In the year 1550, in consequence of the 
rapid increase of sects, Charles V. was under the neces- 
sity of reviving and enforcing these edicts, and it was on 
this occasion that the town of Antwerp opposed the 
establishment of the Inquisition, and obtained an exemp- 
tion from its jurisdiction. But the spirit of the Inquisi- 
tion in the Netherlands, in accordance with the genius of 
the country, was more humane than in Spain, and as yet 
had never been administered by a foreigner, much less 
by a Dominican. The edicts which were known to every- 
body served it as the rule of its decisions. On this very 
account it was less obnoxious ; because, however severe 
its sentence, it did not appear a tool of arbitrary power, 
and it did not, like the Spanish Inquisition, veil itself in 

Philip, however, was desirous of introducing the latter 
tribunal into the Netherlands, since it appeared to him 
the instrument best adapted to destroy the spirit of this 
people, and to prepare them for a despotic government. 
He began, therefore, by increasing the rigor of the re- 
ligious ordinances of his father; by gradually extending 
the power of the inquisitors; by making the proceedings 
more arbitrary, and more independent of the civil juris- 
diction. The tribunal soon wanted little more than the 
name and the Dominicans to resemble in every point the 
Spanish Inquisition. Bare suspicion was enough to 
snatch a citizen from the bosom of public tranquillity, 
and from his domestic circle ; and the weakest evidence 


was a sufficient justification for the use of the rack. Wha 
ever fell into its abvss returned no more to the world. 
All the benefits of the laws ceased for hini ; the maternal 
care of justice no longer noticed him; beyond the pale of 
his former world malice and stupidity judged him accord- 
ing to laws which were never intended for man. The 
delinquent never knew his accuser, and very seldom his 
crime, — a flagitious, devilish artifice which constrained 
the unhappy victim to guess at his error, and in the 
delirium of the rack, or in the weariness of a long living 
interment, to acknowledge transgressions which, perhaps, 
had never been committed, or at least had never come to 
the knowledge of his judges. The goods of the con- 
demned were confiscated, and the informer encouraged 
by letters of grace and rewards. 'No privilege, no civil 
jurisdiction was valid against the holy power ; the secular 
arm lost forever all whom that poAver had once touched. 
Its only share in the judicial duties of the latter was to 
execute its sentences with humble submissiveness. The 
consequences of such an institution were, of necessity, 
unnatural and horrible ; the whole temporal happiness, 
the life itself, of an innocent man was at the mercy of any 
worthless fellow. Every secret enemy, every envious 
person, had now the perilous temptation of an unseen 
and unfailing revenge. The security of property, the 
sincerity of intercourse were gone ; all the ties of interest 
were dissolved ; all of blood and of affection were irre- 
parably broken. An infectious distrust envenomed social 
life ; the dreaded presence of a spy terrified the eye from 
seeing, and choked the voice in the midst of utterance. 
No one believed in the existence of an honest man, or 
passed for one himself. Good name, the ties of country, 
brotherhood, even oaths, and all that man holds sacred, 
were fallen in estimation. Such was the destiny to which 
a great and flourishing commercial town was subjected, 
where one hundred thousand industrious men had been 
brought together by the single tie of mutual confidence, 
— every one indispensable to his neighbor, yet every one 
distrusted and distrustful, — all attracted by the spirit 
of gain, and repelled from each other by fear, — all the 
props of society torn away, where social union was the 
basis of all life and all existence. 




No wonder if so unnatural a tribunal, which had proved 
intolerable even to the more submissive spirit of the 
Spaniard, drove a free state to rebellion. But the terror 
which it inspired was increased by the Spanish troops, 
wliich, even after the restoration of peace, were kept in 
the country, and, in violation of the constitution, garrisoned 
border towns. Charles V. had been forgiven for this 
introduction of foreign troops so long as the necessity of 
it was evident, and his good intentions were less dis- 
trusted. But now men saw in these troops only the 
alarming preparations of oppression and the instruments 
of a detested hierarchy. Moreover, a considerable body 
of cavalry, composed of natives, and fully adequate for 
the protection of the country, made these foreigners 
superfluous. The licentiousness and rapacity, too, of 
the Spaniards, whose pay was long in arrear, and who 
indemnified themselves at the expense of the citizens, 
completed the exasperation of the people, and drove the 
lower orders to despair. Subsequently, when the general 
murmur induced the government to move them from the 
frontiers and transport them into the islands of Zealand, 
where ships were prepared for their deportation, their 
excesses were carried to such a pitch that the inhabitants 
left off working at the embankments, and preferred to 
abandon their native country to the fury of the sea rather 
than to submit any longer to the wanton brutality of these 
lawless bands. 

Philip, indeed, would have wished to retain these 
Spaniards in the country, in order by their presence to 
give weight to his edicts, and to support the innovations 
which he had resolved to make in the constitution of the 
Netherlands. He regard<3d them as a guarantee for the 
submission of the nation and as a chain by which he held 
it captive. Accordingly, he left no expedient untried 
to evade the persevering importunity of the states, who 
demanded the withdrawal of these troops ; and for this 
end he exhausted all the resources of chicanery and per- 
suasion. At one time he pretended to dread a sudden 


invasion by France, although, torn by furious factions, that 
country could scarce support itself against a domestic 
enemy ; at another time they were, he said, to receive his 
son, Don Carlos, on the frontiers; whom, however, he 
never intended should leave Castile. Their maintenance 
should not be a burden to the nation ; he himself would 
disburse all their expenses from his private purse. In 
order to detain them with the more appearance of reason 
he purposely kept back from them their arrears of pay ; 
for otherwise he would assuredly have preferred them 
to the troops of the country, whose demands he fully 
satisfied. To lull the fears of the nation, and to appease 
the general discontent, he offered the chief command of 
these troops to the two favorites of the people, the Prince 
of Orange and Count Egmont. Both, however, declined 
his offer, with the noble-minded declaration that they 
could never make up their minds to serve contrary to the 
laws of the country. The more desire the king showed 
to have his Spaniards in the country the more obstinately 
the states insisted on their removal. In the following 
Diet at Ghent he was compelled, in the very midst of 
his courtiers, to listen to republican truth. "Why are 
foreign hands needed for our defence?" demanded the 
Syndic of Ghent. " Is it that the rest of the world should 
consider us too stupid, or too cowardly, to protect our- 
selves? Why have we made peace if the burdens of 
war are still to oppress us ? In war necessity enforced 
endurance ; in peace our patience is exhausted by its 
burdens. Or shall we be able to keep in order these 
licentious bands which thine own presence could not 
restrain ? Here, Cambray and Antwerp cry for redress ; 
there, Thionville and Marienburg lie waste ; and, surely, 
thou hast not bestowed upon us peace that our cities 
should become deserts, as they necessarily must if thou 
freest them not from these destroyers? Perhaps thou 
art anxious to guard against surprise from our neighbors ? 
This precaution is wise ; but the report of their prepara- 
tions will long outrun their hostilities. Why incur a 
heavy expense to engage foreigners who will not care 
for a country which they must leave to-morrow ? Hast 
thou not still at thy command the same brave Nether- 


zanders to whom thy father entrusted the republic in far 
more troubled times ? Why shouldest thou now doubt 
their loyalty, which, to thy ancestors, they have preserved 
for so many centuries inviolate? Will not they be 
sufficient to sustain the war long enough to give time to 
thy confederates to join their banners, or to thyself to 
send succor from the neighboring country? This 
language was too new to the king, and its truth too 
obvious for him to be able at once to reply to it. " I, 
also, am a foreigner," he at length exclaimed, " and they 
would like, I suppose, to expel me from the country ! " 
At the same time he descended from the throne, and left 
the assembly; but the speaker was pardoned for his 
boldness. Two days afterwards he sent a message to 
the states that if he had been apprised earlier that these 
troops were a burden to them he would have immediately 
made preparation to remove them with himself to Spain. 
Now it was too late, for they would not depart unpaid ; 
but he pledged them his most sacred promise that they 
should not be oppressed with this burden more than four 
months. Nevertheless, the troops remained in this 
country eighteen months instead of four ; and would not, 
perhaps, even then have left it so soon if the exigencies 
of the state had not made their presence indispensable in 
another part of the world. 

The illegal appointment of foreigners to the most 
important offices of the country afforded further occasion 
of complaint against the government. Of all the privi- 
leges of the provinces none was so obnoxious to the 
Spaniards as that which excluded strangers from office, 
and none they had so zealously sought to abrogate. Italy, 
the two Indies, and all the provinces of this vast Empire, 
were indeed open to their rapacity and ambition ; but 
from the richest of them all an inexorable fundamental 
law excluded them. They artfully persuaded their 
sovereign that his power in these countries would never 
be firmly established so long as he could not employ 
foreigners as his instruments. The Bishop of Arras, a 
Burgundian by birth, had already been illegally forced 
upon the Flemings ; and now the Count of Feria, a 
€astilian, was to receive a seat and voice in the council 


of state. But this attempt met with a bolder resistance 
than the king's flatterers had led him to expect, and his 
despotic omnipotence was this time wrecked by the 
politic measures of William of Orange and the firmnegs 
of the states. 


By such measures, did Pliilip usher in his government 
of the Netherlands, and such were the grievances of the 
nation when he was preparing to leave them. He had 
long been impatient to quit a country where he was a 
stranger, where there w^as so much that opposed his secret 
washes, and where his despotic mind found such undaunted 
monitors to remind him of the laAvs of freedom. The 
peace wdth France at last rendered a longer stay un- 
necessary; the armaments of Soliman required his 
presence in the south, and the Spaniards also began to 
miss their long-absent king. The choice of a supreme 
Stadtholder for the Netherlands was the principal matter 
which still detained him. Emanuel Philibert, Duke of 
Savoy, had filled this place since the resignation of Mary, 
Queen of Hungary, which, however, so long as the king 
himself w^as present, conferred more honor than real 
influence. His absence would make it the most important 
ofiice in the monarchy, and the most splendid aim for the 
ambition of a subject. It had now become vacant 
through the departure of the duke, whom the peace of 
Chateau-Cambray had restored to his dominions. The 
almost unlimited power w^ith which the supreme Stat- 
holder would be entrusted, the capacity and experience 
which so extensive and delicate an appointment required, 
but, especially, the daring designs which the government 
had in contemplation against tli.e freedom of the country, 
the execution of which would devolve on him, necessarilv 
embarrassed the choice. The law, which excluded all 
foreigners from ofiice, made an exception in the case of 
the supreme Stadtholder. As he could not be at tlie 
same time a native of all the provinces, it was allowable 
for him not to belong to any one of them ; for the jealousy 
of the man of Brabant would concede no greater righl to 


a Fleming., vvliose home was half a mile from his frontier, 
than to a Sicilian, who lived in another soil and under a 
different sky. But here the interests of the crown itself 
seemed to favor the appointment of a native. A Bra- 
banter, for instance, who enjoyed the full confidence of 
his countrymen if he were a traitor would have half 
accomplished his treason before a foreign governor could 
have overcome the mistrust with whicli his most insig- 
nificant measures would be watched. If the government 
should succeed in carrying through its designs in one 
province, the opposition of the rest would then be a 
temerity, which it would be justified in punishing in the 
severest manner. In the common whole which the 
])rovinces now formed their individual constitutions 
were, in a measure, destroyed; the obedience of one 
would be a law for all, and the privilege, which one knew 
not how to preserve, was lost for the rest. 

Among the Flemish nobles who could lay claim to the 
Chief Stadtholdership, the expectations and wishes of the 
nation were divided between Count Egmont and the 
Prince of Orange, who were alike qualified for this high 
dignity by illustrious birth and personal merits, and by 
an equal share in the affections of the people. Their high 
rank placed them both near to the throne, and if the choice 
of the monarch was to rest on the worthiest it must* 
necessarily fall upon one of these two. As, in the course 
of our history, we shall often have occasion to mention 
both names, the reader cannot be too early made ac- 
quainted with their characters. 

William I., Prince of Orange, was descended from the 
princely German house of Nassau, which had already 
flourished eight centuries, had long disputed the pre- 
eminence with Austria, and had given one Emperor tv 
Germany. Besides several extensive domains in the 
I^etherlands, which made him a citizen of this republic 
£ind a vassal of the Spanish monarchy, he possessed also 
in France the independent princedom of Orange. Wil- 
liam was born in the year 1538, at Dillenburg, in the 
country of Nassau, of a Countess Stolberg. His father, 
the Count of Nassau, of the same name, had embraced 
the Protestant religion, and caused his son also to be edu 


cated in it ; but Charles V., who early formed an attach- 
ment for the boy, took him when quite young to his court, 
and had him brought up in the Romish church. This 
monarch, who already in the child discovered the future 
greatness of the man, kept him nine years about his 
person, thought him worthy of his personal instruction in 
the affairs of government, and honored him with a confi- 
dence beyond his years. He alone was permitted to 
remain in the Emperor's presence when he gave audience 
to foreign ambassadors — a proof that, even as a boy, he 
had already begun to merit the surname of the Silent. 
The Emperor was not ashamed even to confess openly, 
on one occasion, that this young man had often made 
suggestions which would have escaped his own sa- 
gacity. What expectations might not be formed of 
the intellect of a man who was disciplined in such a 

William was twenty-three years old when Charles abdi- 
cated the government, and had already received from the 
latter two public marks of the highest esteem. The 
Emperor had entrusted to him, in preference to all the 
nobles of his court, the honorable office of conveying 
to his brother Ferdinand the imperial crown. When the 
Duke of Savoy, who commanded the imperial army in 
the N'etherlands, was called away to Italy by the exigency 
of his domestic affairs, the Emperor appointed liim com- 
mander-in-chief against the united representations of his 
military council, who declared it altogether hazardous 
to oppose so young a tyro in arms to the experienced 
generals of France. Absent, and unrecommended by 
any, he was preferred by the monarch to the laurel- 
crowned band of his heroes, and the result gave him no 
cause to repent of his choice. 

The marked favor which the prince had enjoyed with 
the father was in itself a sufficient ground for his exclu- 
sion from the confidence of the son. Philip, it appears, 
had laid it down for himself as a rule to avenge the 
wrongs of the Spanish nobility for the preference which 
Charles V. had on all important occasions shown to his 
Flemish nobles. Still stronger, however, were the secret 
motives which alienated him from the prince. Willian; 


of Orange was one of those lean and pale men who, 
according to Caesar's words, " sleep not at night, and think 
too much," and before whom the most fearless spirits quail. 
The calm tranquillity of a never-varying countenance 
concealed a busy, ardent soul, which never ruffled even 
the veil behind which it worked, and was alike inaccessible 
to artifice and love ; a versatile, formidable, indefatigable 
mind, soft, and ductile enough to be instantaneously 
moulded into all forms ; guarded enough to lose itself 
in none ; and strong enough to endure every vicissitude 
of fortune. A greater master in reading and in winning 
men's hearts never existed than William. Not that, after 
the fashion of courts, his lips avowed a servility to which 
his proud heart gave the lie ; but because he was neither 
too sparing nor too lavish of the marks of his esteem, and 
through a skilful economy of the favors which mostly 
bind men, he increased his real stock in them. The 
fruits of his meditation were as perfect as they were 
slowly formed ; his resolves were as steadily and indom- 
itably accomplished as they were long in maturing. No 
obstacles could defeat the plan which he had once adopted 
as the best ; no accidents frustrated it, for they all had 
been foreseen before they actually occurred. High as his 
feelings were raised above terror and joy, they were, 
nevertheless, subject in the same degree to fear ; but his 
fear was earlier than the danger, and he was calm in 
tumult because he had trembled in repose. William 
lavished his gold with a profuse hand, but he was a nig- 
gard of his movements. The hours of repast were tiie 
sole hours of relaxation, but these were exclusively devoted 
to his heart, his family, and his friends ; this the modest 
deduction he allowed himself from the cares of his 
country. Here his brow was cleared with wine, seasoned 
by temperance and a cheerful disposition ; and no serious 
cares were permitted to enter this recess of enjoyment. 
His household was magnificent; the splendor of a numer- 
ous retinue, the number and respectability of those who 
surrounded his person, made his habitation resemble the 
court of a sovereign prince. A sumptuous hospitality, 
that master-spell of demagogues, was the goddess of his 
palace. Foreign princes and ambassadors found here a 
5— Schiller Vol. YII. 


fitting reception and entertainment, wliich surpassed all 
tliat luxurious Belgium could elsewhere offer. A humble 
submissiveness to the government bought off the blame 
and suspicion which this munificence might have thrown 
on his intentions. But this liberality secured for him the 
affections of the people, whom nothing gratified so much 
as to see the riches of their country disj^layed before 
admiring foreigners, and the high pinnacle of fortune on 
which he stood enhanced the value of the courtesy to 
which he condescended. No one, probably, was better 
fitted by nature for the leader of a conspiracy than Wil- 
liam the Silent. A comprehensive and intuitive glance 
into the past, the present, and the future ; the talent for 
improving every favorable 02)i3ortunity ; a commanding 
influence over the minds of men, vast schemes which only 
when viewed from a distance show form and symmetry ; 
and bold calculations which were wound up in the long- 
chain of futurity ; all these faculties he possessed, and 
kept, moreover, under the control of that free and 
enlightened virtue which moves with firm step even on 
the very edge of the abyss. 

A man like this might at other times have remained 
unfathomed by his whole generation ; but not so by the 
distrustful spirit of the age in which he lived. Philip II. 
saw quickly and deeply into a character which, among 
good ones, most resembled his own. If he had not seen 
through him so clearly his distrust of a man, in whom 
were united nearly all the qualities which he prized high- 
est and could best appreciate, would be quite inexplicable. 
But William had another and still more important point 
of contact with Philip II. He had learned his policy 
from the same master, and had become, it was to be 
feared, a more apt scholar. Not by making Machiavelli's 
^Prince'' his study, but by having enjoyed the living 
instruction of a monarch who reduced the book to prac- 
tice, had he become versed in the ])erilous arts by which 
thrones rise and fall. In him Philip had to deal with an 
antagonist who was armed against his policy, and who in 
a good cause could also command the resources of a bad 
one. And it was exactly this last circumstance whicli 
accounts for his liaving hated this man so implacably 


above all others of his day, and his having had so super* 
natural a dread of liim. 

The suspicion which already attached to the prince was 
increased by the doubts which were entertained of his 
religious bias. So long as the Emperor, his benefactor, 
lived, William believed in the pope ; but it was feared, 
with good ground, that the predilection for the reformed 
religion, which had been imj)arted into his young heart, 
had never entirely left it. Whatever church he may at 
certain periods of his life have preferred each might con- 
sole itself with the reflection that none other possessed 
him more entirely. In later years he went over to 
Calvinism with almost as little scruple as in his early 
childhood he deserted the Lutheran profession for the 
Komish. He defended the rights of the Protestants 
rather than their opinions against Spanish oppression ; 
not their faith, but their wrongs, had made him their 

These general grounds for suspicion appeared to be 
justified by a discovery of his real intentions which acci- 
dent had made. William had remained in France as 
hostage for the peace of Chateau-Cambray, in concluding 
which he had borne a part ; and here, through the impru- 
dence of Henry II., who imagined he spoke wdth a con- 
fidant of the King of Spain, he became acquainted with 
a secret plot which the French and Spanish courts had 
formed ao^ainst Protestants of both kins^doms. The 
prince hastened to communicate this important discovery 
to his friends in Brussels, whom it so nearly concerned, 
and the letters which he exchanged on the subject fell, 
unfortunately, into the hands of the King of Spain. 
Philip was less surprised at this decisive disclosure of 
William's sentiments than incensed at the disappointment 
of his scheme ; and the Spanish nobles, who had never 
forgiven the prince that moment, when in the last act of 
his life the greatest of Emperors leaned upon his shoul- 
ders, did not neglect this favorable opportunity of finally 
ruining, in the good opinion of their king, the betrayer 
of a state secret. 

Of a lineage no less noble than that of William was 
tamoral, Count Egmout and Frince of Gavr^j a descend- 


ant of the Dukes of Gucldres, whose martial courage had 
wearied out the arms of Austria. His family was highly 
distinguished in the annals of the country; one of his 
ancestors, had, under Maximilian, already filled the office 
of Stadtholder over Holland. Egmont's marriage with 
the Duchess Sabina of Bavaria reflected additional lustre 
on the splendor of his birth, and made him powerful 
through the greatness of this alliance. Charles V. had, 
in the year 1516, conferred on him at Utrecht the order 
of the Golden Fleece ; the wars of this Emj^eror were the 
school of his military genius, and the battle of St. Quentin 
and Gravelines made him the hero of his age. Every 
blessing of peace, for which a commercial j^^'ople feel 
most grateful, brought to mind the remembrance of the 
victory by w^hich it was accelerated, and Flemish pride, 
like a fond mother, exulted over the illustrious son of 
their country, who had filled all Europe with admiration. 
Nine children who grew up under the eyes of their fellow- 
citizens, multiplied and drew" closer the ties between him 
and his fatherland, and the people's grateful affection for 
the father was kept alive by the sight of those who were 
dearest to him. Every appearance of Egmont in public 
was a triumphal procession ; every eye which was fastened 
upon him recounted his historj^; his deeds lived in the 
plaudits of his companions-in-arms ; at the games of chiv- 
alry mothers pointed him out to their children. Affability, 
a noble and courteous demeanor, the amiable virtues of 
chivalry, adorned and graced his merits. His liberal 
soul shone forth on his open brow ; his frank-heartedness 
managed his secrets no better than his benevolence did 
his estate, and a thought w\as no sooner his than it was 
the property of all. His religion was gentle and humane, 
but not very enlightened, because it derived its light from 
the heart and not from his understanding. Egmont 
possessed more of conscience than of fixed principles ; his 
head had not given him a code of its own, but had merely 
learnt it by rote ; the mere name of any action, therefore, 
was often w^ith him sufficient for its condemnation. In 
his judgment men were wholly bad or Avholly good, and 
had not somethinGj bad or something: o"0od ; in this system 
of morals there was no middle term between vice and 


'v^irtuc ; and consequently a single good trait often decided 
his opinion of men. Egmont united all the eminent 
qualities which form the hero ; he was a better soldier 
than the Prince of Orange, but far inferior to him as a 
statesman ; the latter saw the world as it really was ; 
Egmont viewed it in the magic mirror of an imagination 
that embellished all that it reflected. Men, whom fortune 
])as surprised with a reward for which they can find no 
adequate ground in their actions, are, for the most part, 
very apt to forget the necessary connection between cause 
and effect, and to insert in the natural consequences of 
things a higher miraculous power to which, as Caesar to 
his fortune, they at last insanely trust. Such a character 
was Es^mont. Intoxicated with the idea of his own 
merits, which the love and gratitude of his fellow-citizens 
had exaggerated, he staggered on in this SAveet reverie 
as in a delightful world of dreams. He feared not, be- 
cause he trusted to the deceitful pledge which destiny 
had given him of her favor, in the general love of the 
people; and he believed in its justice because he himself 
was prosperous. Even the most terrible experience of 
Spanish perfidy could not afterwards eradicate this con- 
fidence from his soul, and on the scaffold itself his latest 
feeling was hope. A tender fear for his family kept his 
patriotic courage fettered by lower duties. Because 
he trembled for property and life he could not venture 
much for the republic. William of Orang^e broke with 
the throne because its arbitrary power was offensive to 
his pride ; Egmont was vain, and therefore valued the 
favors of the monarch. The former was a citizen of the 
world ; Egmont had never been more than a Fleming. 

Philip II. still stood indebted to the hero of St. Quentin, 
and the supreme stadtholdership of the Netherlands 
appeared the only appropriate reward for such great 
services. Birth and high station, the voice of the nation 
and personal abilities, spoke as loudly for Egmont as for 
Orange ; and if the latter was to be passed by it seemed 
that the former alone could supplant him. 

Two such competitors, so equal in merit, might have 
embarrassed Philip in his choice if he had ever Seriously 
thought of selecting either of them for the appointment. 


But the pre-eminent qualities by which they supported 
tlieir claim to this office were the very cause of their 
I'ejection ; and it was precisely the ardent desire of the 
nation for their election to it that irrevocably annulled 
their title to the appointment. Philip's purpose would 
not be answered by a stadtholder in the Netherlands who 
could command the good-will and the energies of the 
people. Egmont's descent from the Duke of Gueldres 
made him an hereditary foe of the house of Spain, and 
it seemed impolitic to place the supreme power in the 
hands of a man to whom the idea might occur of reveng- 
ing on the son of the oppressor the oppression of his 
ancestor. The slight put on their favorites could give no 
just offence either to the nation or to themselves, for it 
might be pretended that the king passed over both be- 
cause he would not show a preference to either. 

The disappointment of his hopes of gaining the regency 
did not deprive the Prince of Orange of all expectation 
of establishing more firmly his influence in the Nether- 
lands. Among the other candidates for this office was 
also Christina, Duchess of Lorraine, and aunt of the king, 
who, as mediatrix of the peace of Chateau-Cambray, had 
rendered important service to the crown. William aimed 
at the hand of her daughter, and he hoped to promote his 
suit by actively interposing his good offices for the mother; 
but he did not reflect that through this very intercession 
he ruined her cause. The Duchess Christina was rejected, 
not so much for the reason alleged, namely, the dependence 
of her territories on France made her an object of sus- 
picion to the Spanish court, as because she was acceptable to 
the people of the Netherlands and the Prince of Orange. 


While the general expectation was on the stretch as to 
whom the future destines of the provinces would be com- 
mitted, there appeared on the frontiers of the country the 
Duchess Margaret of Parma, having been summoned by 
the king from Italy to assume the government. 

Margaret was a natural daughter of Charles Y. and of 
a noble Flemish lady named Vangeest, and born in 1522. 


Out of regard for the honor of her mother's house she 
was at first educated in obscurity ; but her mother, who 
possessed more vanity than honor, was not very anxious to 
preserve the secret of her origin, and a princely education 
betrayed the daughter of the Emperor. While yet a child 
she was entrusted to the Regent Margaret, her great-auntj 
to be brought up at Brussels under her eye. This guardian 
she lost in her eighth year, and the care of her education 
devolved on Queen Mary of Hungary, the successor of 
Margaret in the regency. Her father had already affianced 
her, while yet in her fourth year, to a Prince of Ferrara ; 
but this alliance being subsequently dissolved, she was 
betrothed to Alexander de Medicis, the new Duke of 
Florence, which marriage was, after the victorious return 
of the Emperor from Africa, actually consummated in 
Naples. In the first year of this unfortunate union, a 
violent death removed from her a husband who could not 
love her, and for the third time her hand was disposed of 
to serve the policy of her father. Octavius Farnese, a 
prince of thirteen years of age and nephew of Paul IH., 
obtained, with her person, the Duchies of Parma and 
Piacenza as her portion. Thus, by a strange destiny, 
Margaret at the age of maturity was contracted to a 
boy, as in the years of infancy slie had been sold^ to 
a man. Her disposition, which was anything but feminine, 
made this last alliance still more unnatural, for her taste 
and inclinations were masculine, and the whole tenor of 
her life belied her sex. After the example of her in-= 
structress, the Queen of Hungary, and her great-aunt, 
the Duchess Mary of Burgundy, who met her death in 
this favorite sport, she was passionately fond of hunting, 
and had acquired in this pursuit such bodily vigor that 
few men were better able to undergo its hardships and 

Her gait itself was so devoid of grace that one was far 
more tempted to take her for a disguised man than for a 
masculine woman ; and Kature, whom she had derided 
by thus transgressing the limits of her sex, revenged itself 
finally upon her by a disease peculiar to men — the gout. 

These unusual qualities were crowned by a monkish 
superstition which was infused into her mind by Ignatius 


Loyola, her confessor and teacher. Among the charitable 
works and penances with which she niortitied her vanity, 
one of the most remarkable was that, during Passion- Week 
she yearly washed, with her own hands, the feet of a num- 
ber of poor men (who were most strictly forbidden to 
cleanse themselves beforehand), waited on them at table 
like a servant, and sent them away with rich presents. 

Nothing more is requisite than this last feature in her 
character to account for the preference w^hich the king 
gave her over all her rivals ; but his choice was at the 
same time justified by excellent reasons of state. Marga- 
ret was born and also educated in the Netherlands. She 
had spent her early youth among the people, and had ac- 
quired much of their national manners. Two regents 
(Duchess Margaret and Queen Mary of Hungary), under 
whose eyes she had grown up, had gradually initiated her 
into the maxims by which this peculiar people might be 
most easily governed ; and they would also serve her as 
models. She did not want either in talents ; and pos- 
sessed, moreover, a particular turn for business, which she 
had acquired from her instructors, and had afterwards 
carried to greater perfection in the Italian school. The 
Netherlands had been for a number of years accustomed 
to female government ; and Philip hoped, perhaps, that 
the sharp iron of tyranny which he was about to use 
against them would cut more gently if wielded by the 
hands of a woman. Some regard for his father, who at 
the time was still living, and was much attached to Mar- 
garet, may have in a measure, as it is asserted, influenced 
this choice ; as it is also probable that the king wished to 
oblige the Duke of Parma, through this mark of attention 
to his wife, and thus to compensate for denying a request 
which he was just then compelled to refuse him. As the 
territories of the duchess were surrounded by Philip's 
Italian states, and at all times exposed to his arms, he 
could, with the less danger, entrust the supreme power 
into her hands. For his full security her son, Alexander 
Farnese, was to remain at his court as a pledge for lier 
loyalty. All these reasons were alone sufliciently weiglity 
to turn the king's decision in her favor ; but they became 
irresistible when supported by the Bishop of Arras and 


the Duke of Alva. The latter, as it appears, because he 
hated or envied all the other competitors; the former, 
because even then, in all probability, he anticipated from 
the wavering disposition of this princess abundant grati' 
fication for his ambition. 

Philip received the new regent on the frontiers with a 
splendid cortege, and conducted her with magnificent 
pomp to Ghent, where the States General had been con- 
voked. As he did not intend to return soon to the 
Netherlands, he desired, before he left them, to gratify 
the nation for once by holding a solemn Diet, and thus 
giving a solemn sanction and the force of law to his pre- 
vious regulations. For the last time he showed himself 
to his Netherlandish people, whose destinies were from 
henceforth to be dispensed from a mysterious distance. 
To enhance the splendor of this solemn day, Philip 
invested eleven knights with the Order of the Golden 
Fleece, his sister being seated on a chair near himself, 
while he showed her to the nation as their future ruler. 
All the grievances of the people, touching the edicts, the 
Inquisition, the detention of the Spanish troops, the 
taxes, and the illegal introduction of foreigners into the 
offices and administration of the country were brought 
forward in this Diet, and were hotly discussed by both 
parties ; some of them were skilfully evaded, or appar- 
ently removed, others arbitrarily repelled. As the king 
was unacquainted with the language of the country, he 
addressed the nation through the mouth of the Bishop of 
Arras, recounted to them with vain-glorious ostentation 
all the benefits of his government, assured them of his 
favor for the future, and once more recommended to the 
estates in the most earnest manner the preservation of 
the Catholic faith and the extirpation of heresy. The 
Spanish troops, he promised, should in a few months 
evacuate the Netherlands, if only they would allow him 
time to recover from the numerous burdens of the last 
war, in order that he might be enabled to collect the 
means for paying the arrears of these troops ; the funda- 
mental laws of the nation should remain inviolate, the 
imposts should not be grievously burdensome, and the 
inquisition should administer its duties with justice and 


moderation. In the choice of a supreme Stadtholder, he 
added, he had esj^ecially consulted the wishes of the 
nation, and had decided for a native of the country, who 
had been brought uj) in their manners and customs, and 
was attached to them by a love to her native land. He 
exhorted them, therefore, to show their gratitude by 
honoring his choice, and' obeying his sister, the duchess, 
as himself. Should, he concluded, unexpected obstacles 
oppose his return, he would send in his place his son, 
Prince Charles, who should reside in Brussels. 

A few members of this assembly, more courageous 
than the rest, once more ventured on a final effort for 
liberty of conscience. Every people, they argued, ought 
to be treated according to their natural character, as 
every individual must in accordance to his bodily consti- 
tution. Thus, for example, the south may be considered 
happy under a certain degree of constraint which would 
press intolerably on the north. Never, they added, 
would the Flemings consent to a yoke under which, per- 
haps, the Spaniards bowed with patience, and rather than 
submit to it would they undergo any extremity if it was 
sought to force such a yoke upon them. This remon- 
strance was supported by some of the king's counsellors, 
who strongly urged the policy of mitigating the rigor of 
religious edicts. But Philip remained inexorable. Bet- 
ter not reign at all, was his answer, than reign over 
heretics ! 

According to an arrangement already made by Charles 
v., three councils or chambers were added to the regent, 
to assist her in the administration of state affairs. As 
long as Philip was himself present in the Netherlands 
these courts had lost much of their power, and the func- 
tions of the first of them, the state council, were almost 
entirely suspended. Now that he quitted the reins of 
government, they recovered their former importance. In 
the state council, which was to deliberate upon war and 
peace, and security against external foes, sat the Bishop 
of Arras, the Prince of Orange, Count Egmont, the 
President of the Privy Council, Viglius Van Zuichem 
Van Aytta, and the Count of Barlaimont, President of 
the Chamber of Finance. All knights of the Golden 


Fleece, all privy counsellors and counsellors of finance, 
as also the members of the great senate at Malines, 
which had been subjected by Charles V. to the Privy 
Council in Brussels, had a seat and vote in the Council of 
State, if expressly invited by the regent. The manage- 
ment of the royal revenues and crown lands was vested 
in the Chamber of Finance, and the Privy Council was 
occupied with the administration of justice, and the civil 
regulation of the country, and issued all letters of grace 
and pardon. The governments of the provinces which 
had fallen vacant were either filled up afresh or the for- 
mer governors were confirmed. Count Egmont received 
Flanders and Artois ; the Prince of Orange, Holland, 
Zealand, Utrecht, and West Friesland ; the Count of 
Aremberg, East Friesland, Overyssel, and Groningen ; 
the Count of Mansf eld, Luxemburg ; Barlaimont, Namur ; 
the Marquis of Bergen, Hainault, Chateau-Cambray, and 
Valenciennes ; the Baron of Montigny, Tournay and its 
dependencies. Other provinces were given to some who 
have less claim to our attention. Philip of Montmo- 
rency, Count of Hoorn, who had been succeeded by the 
Count of Megen in the government of Gueldres and Ztit- 
phen, was confirmed as admiral of the Belgian navy. 
Every governor of a province was at the same time a 
knight of the Golden Fleece and member of the Council 
of State. Each had, in the province over which he pre- 
sided, the command of the military force which protected 
it, the superintendence of the civil administration and 
the judicature ; the governor of Flanders alone excepted, 
who was not allowed to interfere with the administration 
of justice. Brabant alone was placed under the imme- 
diate jurisdiction of the regent, who, according to cus- 
tom, chose Brussels for her constant residence. The 
induction of the Prince of Orange into his governments 
was, properly speaking, an infraction of the constitution, 
since he was a foreigner ; but several estates which he 
either himself possessed in the provinces, or managed as 
guardian of his son, his long residence in the country, 
and above all the unlimited confidence the nation reposed 
in him, gave him substantial claims in default of a real 
title of citizenship. 


The military force of the Low Countries consisted, in 
its full complement, of three thousand horse. At pres- 
ent it did not much exceed two thousand, and was di- 
vided into fourteen squadrons, over which, besides the 
governors of the provinces, the Duke of Arschot, the 
Counts of Hoogstraten, Bossu, Roeux, and Brederode 
held the chief command. This cavalry, which was scat- 
tered through all the seventeen provinces, was only to be 
called out on sudden emergencies. Insufficient as it was 
for any great undertaking, it was, nevertheless, fully ad» 
equate for the maintenance of internal order. Its cour- 
age had been approved in former wars, and the fame of 
its valor was diffused through the whole of Europe. In 
addition to this cavalry it was also proposed to levy a 
body of infantry, but hitherto the states had refused 
their consent to it. Of foreign troops there were still 
some German regiments in the service, which were wait- 
ing for their pay. The four thousand Spaniards, respect- 
ing whom so many complaints had been made, were 
under two Spanish generals, Mendoza and Komero, and 
were in garrison in the frontier towns. 

Among the Belgian nobles whom the king especially 
distinguished in these new appointments, the names of 
Count Egmont and William of Orange stand conspicuous. 
However inveterate his hatred was of both, and particu- 
larly of the latter, Philip nevertheless gave them these 
public marks of his favor, because his scheme of ven- 
geance was not yet fully ripe, and the people were enthu- 
siastic in their devotion to them. The estates of both 
were declared exempt from taxes, the most lucrative 
governments were entrusted to them, and by offering 
them the command of the Spaniards whom he left behind 
in the country the king flattered them with a confidence 
which he was very far from really reposing in them. But 
at the very time when he obliged the prince with these 
public marks of his esteem he privately inflicted the most 
cruel injury on him. Apprehensive lest an alliance with 
the powerful house of Lorraine miglit encourage this 
suspected A^assal to bolder measures, he thwarted the 
negotiation for a marriage between him and a princess of 
that family, and crushed his hopes on the very eve of 


their accomplishment, — an injury which the prince never 
forgave. Nay, his hatred to the prince on one occasion 
even got completely the better of his natural dissimula- 
tion, and seduced him into a step in which we entirel)^ 
lose sight of Philip II. When he was about to embark 
at Flushing, and the nobles of the country attended him 
to the shore, he so far forgot himself as roughly to accost 
the prince, and openly to accuse him of being the author 
of the Flemish troubles. The prince answered tem- 
perately that what had happened had been done by the 
provinces of their own suggestion and on legitimate 
grounds. No, said Philip, seizing his hand, and shaking 
it violently, not the provinces, but You ! You ! You ! 
The prince stood mute with astonishment, and without 
waiting for the king's embarkation, wished him a safe 
journey, and went back to tlie town. 

Thus the enmity which William had long harbored in 
his breast against the oppressor of a free people was now 
rendered irreconcilable by private hatred; and this 
double incentive accelerated the great enterp'-ise which 
tore from the Spanish crown seven of its brightest 

Philip had greatly deviated from his true character in 
taking so gracious a leave of the Netherlands. The lega) 
form of a diet, his promise to remove the Spaniards fronv 
the frontiers, the consideration of the popular wishes, 
which had led him to fill the most important offices of the 
country with the favorites of the people, and, finally, the 
sacrifice which he made to the constitution in withdraw- 
ing the Count of Feria from the council of state, w^ere 
marks of condescension of which his magnanimity was 
never again guilty. But in fact he never stood in greater 
need of the good-w^ill of the states, that w^ith their aid he 
might, if possible, clear off the great burden of debt 
which was still attached to the Netherlands from the 
former w^ar. He hoped, therefore, by propitiating them 
through smaller sacrifices to win approval of more im- 
portant usurpations. He marked his departure wath 
grace, for he knew in what hands he left them. The 
frightful scenes of death which he intended for this 
unhappy people were not to stain the splendor of majesty 


which, like the Godhead, marks its course only with 
beneficence; that terrible distinction was reserved for 
his representatives. The establishment of the council of 
state was, however, intended rather to flatter the vanity 
of the Belgian nobility than to impart to them any real 
influence. The historian Strada (who drew his informa- 
tion with regard to the regent from her own papers) has 
preserved a few articles of the secret instructions which 
the Spanish ministry gave her. Amongst other things it 
is there stated if she observed that the councils were 
divided by factions, or, what would be far worse, pre- 
pared by private conferences before the session, and in 
league with one another, then she was to prorogue all 
the chambers and dispose arbitrarily of the disputed 
articles in a more select council or committee. In this 
select committee, which was called the Consulta, sat the 
Archbishop of Arras, the President Viglius, and the Count 
of Barlaimont. She was to act in the same manner if 
emergent cases required a prompt decision. Had this 
arrangement not been the work of an arbitrary despotism 
it would perhaps have been justified by sound policy, and 
republican liberty itself might have tolerated it. In great 
assemblies where many private interests and passions 
co-operate, where a numerous audience presents so great 
a temptation to the vanity of the orator, and parties often 
assail one another with unmannerly warmth, a decree can 
seldom be passed with that sobriety and mature delibera- 
tion which, if the members are properly selected, a smaller 
body readily admits of. In a numerous body of men, 
too, there is, we must suppose, a greater number of limited 
than of enlightened intellects, who through their equal right 
of vote frequently turn the majority on the side of ignor- 
ance. A second maxim which the regent was especially 
to observe, was to select the very members of council 
\v^ho had voted against any decree to carry it into execu- 
tion. By this means not only would the people be kept 
in ignorance of the originators of such a law, but the 
private quarrels also of the members would be restrained, 
and a greater freedom insured in voting in compliance 
with the wishes of the court. 
In spite of all these precautions Philip would never have 


been ablo to leave the Netherlands with a quiet mind so 
long as hb knew that the chief power in the council of 
state, and the obedience of the provinces, were in the 
hands of the suspected nobles. In order, therefore, to 
appease his fears from this quarter, and also at the same 
time to assure himself of the fidelity of the regent, he 
subjected her, and through her all the affairs of the judi- 
cature, to the higher control of the Bishop of Arras. In 
this single individual he possessed an adequate counter- 
poise to the most dreaded cabal. To him, as to an 
infallible oracle of majesty, the duchess was referred, and 
in him there watched a stern supervisor of her adminis- 
tration. Among all his contemporaries Granvella was 
the only one whom Philip II. appeanT ^o have excepted 
from his universal distrust ; as long as he knew that this 
man was in Brussels he could sleep calmly in Segovia. 
He left the Netherlands in September, 1659, was saved 
from a storm which sank his fleet, and landed at Laredo 
in Biscay, and in his gloomy joy thanked the Deity who 
had preserved him by a detestable vow. In the hands 
of a priest and of a woman was placed the dangerous 
helm of the Netherlands ; and the dastardly tyrant 
escaped in his oratory at Madrid the supplications, the 
complaints, and the curses of the people. 

BOOK ir. 


Anthony Perenot, Bishop of Arras, subsequently 
Archbishop of Malines, and Metropolitan of all the 
Netherlands, who, under the name of Cardinal Granvella^ 
has been immortalized by the hatred of his contem- 
poraries, was born in the year 1616, at Besancon in Bur- 
gundy. His father, Nicolaus Perenot, the son of a black- 
smith, had risen by his own merits to be the private 
secretary of Margaret, Duchess of Savoy, at that time 
legent of the Netherlands, Ik this post he was noticed 


for his habits of business by Charles V., who took him 
into his own service and employed him in several im- 
portant negotiations. For twenty years he was a member 
of the Emperor's cabinet, and filled the offices of privy 
counsellor and keeper of the king's seal, and shared in all 
the state secrets of that monarch. He acquired a large 
fortune. His honors, his influence, and his political 
knowledge were inherited by his son, Anthony Perenot, 
who in his early years gave proofs of the great capacity 
which subsequently opened to him so distinguished a 
career. Anthony had cultivated at several colleges the 
talents with which nature had so lavishly endowed him, 
and in some respects had an advantage over his father. 
He soon showed that his own abilities were sufficient to 
maintain the advantageous position which the merits of 
another had procured him. He was twenty-four years 
old when the Emperor sent him as his plenipotentiary to 
the ecclesiastical council of Trent, where he delivered the 
first specimen of that eloquence which in the sequel gave 
him so complete an ascendancy over two kings. Charles 
employed him in several difficult embassies, the duties of 
which he fulfilled to the satisfaction of his sovereign, and 
when finally that Emperor resigned the sceptre to his son 
he made that costly present complete by giving him a 
minister who could help him to wield it. 

Granvella opened his new career at once wath the 
greatest masterpiece of political genius, in passing so 
easily from the favor of such a father into equal con- 
sideration with such a son. And he soon proved himself 
deserving of it. At the secret negotiations of which the 
Duchess of Lorraine had, in 1558, been the medium 
between the French and Spanish ministers at Peronne, 
he planned, conjointly with the Cardinal of Lorraine, 
that conspiracy against the Protestants which was after- 
wards matured, but also betrayed, at Chateau-Cambray, 
where Perenot likewise assisted in effecting the so-called 

A deeply penetrating, comprehensive intellect, an un- 
usual facility in conducting great and intricate affairs^ 
and the most extensive learning, were wonderfully united 
in this man with persevering industry and never- weary- 


ing patience, while his enterprising genius was associated 
with thoughtful mechanical regularity. Day and night 
the state found him vigilant and collected ; the most im- 
portant and the most insignificant things were alike 
weighed by him with scrupulous attention. Not unfre- 
quently he employed five secretaries at one time, dic- 
tating to them in different languages, of which he is said 
to have spoken seven. What his penetrating mind had 
slowly matured acquired in his lips both force and grace, 
and truth, set forth by his persuasive eloquence, irresisti- 
bly carried away all hearers. He was tempted by none 
of the passions which make slaves of most men. His in- 
tegrity was incorruptible. With shrewd penetration he 
saw through the disposition of his master, and could read 
in his features his whole train of thought, and, as it were, 
the approaching form in the shadow which outran it. 
With an artifice rich in resources he came to the aid of 
Philip's more inactive mind, formed into perfect thought 
his master's crude ideas while they yet hung on his lips, 
and liberally allowed him the glory of the invention. 
Granvella understood the difficult and useful art of 
depreciating his own talents ; of making his own genius 
the seeming slave of another ; thus he ruled while he con- 
cealed his sway. In this manner only could Philip II. 
be governed. Content with a silent but real power, 
Granvella did not grasp insatiably at new and outward 
marks of it, which with lesser minds are ever the most 
coveted objects; but every new distinction seemed to sit 
upon him as easily as the oldest. No wonder if such ex- 
traordinary endowments had alone gained him the favor 
of his master ; but a large and valuable treasure of politi- 
cal secrets and experiences, which the active life of 
Charles V. had accumulated, and had deposited in the 
mind of this man, made him indispensable to his suc- 
cessor. Self-sufficient as the latter was, and accustomed 
to confide in his own understanding, his timid and 
crouching policy was fain to lean on a superior mind, and 
to aid its own irresolution not only by precedent but also 
by the influence and example of another. No political 
matter which concerned the royal interest, even when 
Philip himself was in the Netherlands, was decided 
e^SciiiLLER ^"OL. vir. 


without the intervention of Granvella; and when the 
king embarked for Spain he made the new regent the 
same valuable present of the minister which he himself 
had received from the Emperor, his father. 

Common as it is for despotic princes to bestow un- 
limited confidence on the creatures whom they have 
raised from the dust, and of whose greatness they them- 
selves are, in a measure, the creators, the present is no 
ordinary instance ; pre-eminent must have been the qual- 
ities which could so far conquer the selfish reserve of 
such a character as Philip's as to gain his confidence, 
nay, even to win him into familiarity. The slightest 
ebullition of the most allowable self-respect, w^hich might 
have tempted him to assert, however slightly, his claim 
to any idea which the king had once ennobled as his own, 
would have cost him his whole influence. He might 
gratify without restraint the lowest passions of voluptu- 
ousness, of rapacity, and of revenge, but the only one in 
which he really took delight, the sweet consciousness of 
his own superiority and power, he was constrained care- 
fully to conceal from the suspicious glance of the despot. 
He voluntarily disclaimed all the eminent qualities, which 
were already his own, in order, as it were, to receive 
them a second time from the generosity of the king. His 
happiness seemed to flow from no other source, no other 
person could have a claim upon his gratitude. The 
purple, which was sent to him from Rome, was not 
assumed until the royal permission reached him from 
Spain ; by laying it dow^n on the steps of the throne he 
appeared, in a measure, to receive it first from the hands 
of majesty. Less politic, Alva erected a trophy in Ant- 
werp, and inscribed his own name under the victory, 
which he had won as the servant of the crown — but Alva 
carried with him to the grave the displeasure of his 
master. He had invaded with audacious hand the royal 
prerogative by drawing immediately at the fountain of 

Three times Granvella changed his master, and three 
times he succeeded in rising to the highest favor. With 
the same facility with which he had guided the settled 
pride of an autocrat, and the sly egotism of a despot, he 


knew how to manage the delicate vanity of a woman. 
His business between himself and the regent, even when 
they were in the same house, was, for the most part, 
transacted by the medium of notes, a custom which draws 
its date from the times of Augustus and Tiberius. When 
the regent was in any perplexity these notes were inter- 
changed from hour to hour. He probably adopted this 
expedient in the hope of eluding the watchful jealousy 
of the nobility, and concealing from them, in part at least, 
his influence over the regent. Perhaps, too, he also 
believed that by this means his advice would become 
more permanent ; and, in case of need, this written testi- 
money w^ould be at hand to shield him from blame. But 
the vigilance of the nobles made this caution vain, and it 
was soon known in all the provinces that nothing was 
determined upon without the minister's advice. 

Granvella possessed all the qualities requisite for a per- 
fect statesman in a monarchy governed by despotic princi- 
ples, but was absolutely unqualified for republics which are 
governed by kings. Educated between the throne and 
the confessional, he knew of no other relation between 
man and man than that of rule and subjection ; and the 
innate consciousness of his own superiority gave him a 
contempt for others. His policy wanted pliability, the 
only virtue which was here indispensable to its success. 
He was naturally overbearing and insolent, and the royal 
authority only gave arms to the natural impetuosity of 
his disposition and the imperiousness of his order. He 
veiled his own ambition beneath the interests of the 
crown, and made the breach between the nation and the 
king incurable, because it would render him indispensable 
to the latter. He revenged on the nobility the lowliness 
of his own origin ; and, after the fashion of all those who 
have risen by their own merits, he valued the advantages 
of birth below those by which he had raised himself to 
distinction. The Protestants saw in him their most im- 
placable foe ; to his charge were laid all the burdens 
which oppressed the country, and they pressed the more 
heavily because they came from him. Nay, he was even 
accused of having brought back to severity the milder 
sentiments to which the urgent remonstrances of the 


provinces had at last disposed the monarch. The Nether- 
lands execrated liim as the most terrible enemy of their 
liberties, and the originator of all the misery which sub- 
sequently came upon them. 

1559. Philip had evidently left the provinces too soon. 
The new measures of the government were still strange 
to the people, and could receive sanction and authority 
from his presence alone ; the new machines which he had 
brought into play required to be kept in motion by a^ 
dreaded and powerful hand, and to have their first move- 
ments watched and regulated. He now exposed his 
minister to all the angry passions of the people, who no 
longer felt restrained by the fetters of the royal presence ; 
and he delegated to the weak arm of a subject the execu- 
tion of projects in which majesty itself, with all its 
powerful supports, might have failed. 

The land, indeed, flourished ; and a general prosperity 
appeared to testify to the blessings of the peace which 
had so lately been bestowed upon it. An external repose 
deceived the eye, for within raged all the elements of 
discord. If the foundations of religion totter in a country 
they totter not alone ; the audacity which begins with 
things sacred ends with things profane. The successful 
attack upon the hierarchy had awakened a spirit of bold- 
ness, and a desire to assail authority in general, and to 
test laws as well as dogmas — duties as well as opinions. 
The fanatical boldness wath which men had learned to 
discuss and decide upon the affairs of eternity might 
change its subject matter; the contempt for life and 
property which religious enthusiasm had taught could 
metamorphose timid citizens into foolhardy rebels. A 
female government of nearly forty years had given the 
nation room to assert their liberty ; continual wars, of 
which the Netherlands had been the theatre, had intro- 
duced a license with them, and the right of the stronger 
had usurped the y)lace of law and order. The provinces 
were filled with foreign adventurers and fugitives ; gen- 
erally men bound by no ties of country, family, or prop- 
erty, who had brought with them from their unhappy 
homes the seeds of insubordination and rebellion. The 
jepeated spectacles of torture and of death had rudely 


burst the tenderer threads of moral feeling, and had given 
an unnatural harshness to the national character. 

Still the rebellion would have crouched timorously and 
silently on the ground if it had not found a support in 
the nobility. Charles V. had spoiled the Flemish nobles 
of the Netherlands by making them the participators of 
his glory, by fostering their national pride, by the marked 
preference he showed for them over the Castilian nobles, 
and by opening an arena to their ambition in every part 
of his empire. In the late war with France they had 
really deserved this preference from Philip ; the advan- 
tages which the king reaped from the peace of Chateau- 
Cambray were for the most part the fruits of their valor, 
and they now sensibly missed the gratitude on which 
they had so confidently reckoned. Moreover, the separa- 
tion of the German empire from the Spanish monarchy, 
and the less warlike spirit of the new government, had 
greatly narrowed their sphere of action, and, except in 
their own country, little remained for them to gain. And 
Philip now api)ointed his Spaniards where Charles V. 
had employed the Flemings. All the passions which the 
preceding government had raised and kept employed still 
survived in peace ; and in default of a legitimate object 
these unruly feelings found, unfortunately, ample scope 
in the grievances of their country. Accordingly, the 
claims and wrongs which had been long supplanted by 
new passions were now drawn from oblivion. By his 
late appointments the king had satisfied no party ; for 
those even who obtained offices were not much more 
content than those who were entirely passed over, because 
they had calculated on something better than they got. 
William of Orange had received four governments (not 
to reckon some smaller dependencies which, taken to- 
gether, were equivalent to a fifth), but William had 
nourished hopes of Flanders and Brabant. He and Count 
Egmont forgot what had really fallen to their share, and 
only remembered that they had lost the regency. The 
majority of the nobles were either plunged into debt by 
their own extravagance, or had willingly enough been 
drawn into it by the government. Now that they were 
excluded from the prospect of lucrative appointments, 


they at once saw themselves exposed to poverty, which 
pained them the more sensibly when they contrasted the 
splendor of the affluent citizens with tlieir own neces- 
sities. In the extremities to which they were reduced 
many would have readily assisted in the commission even 
of crimes ; how then could they resist the seductive offers 
of the Calvinists, who liberally repaid them for their 
intercession and protection ? Lastly, many whose estates 
were past redemption placed their last hope in a general 
devastation, and stood prepared at tlie first favorable 
moment to cast the torch of discord into the republic. 

This threatening aspect of the public mind was ren- 
dered still more alarming by the unfortunate vicinity of 
France. What Philip dreaded for the provinces was 
there already accomplished. The fate of that kingdom 
prefigured to him the destiny of his Netherlands, and 
the spirit of rebellion found there a seductive example. 
A similar state of things had under Francis I. and Henry 
II. scattered the seeds of innovation in that kingdom ; a 
similar fury of persecution and a like spirit of faction 
had encouraged its growth. Kow Huguenots and Cath- 
olics were struggling in a dubious contest ; furious parties 
disorganized the whole monarchy, and were violently 
hurrying this once-powerful state to the brink of 
destruction. Here, as there, private interest, ambition, 
and party feeling might veil themselves under the names 
of religion and patriotism, and the passions of a few 
citizens drive the entire nation to take up arms. The 
frontiers of both countries merged in Walloon Flanders ; 
the rebellion might, like an agitated sea, cast its waves as 
far as this : would a country be closed against it whose 
language, manners, and character wavered between those 
of France and Belgium ? As yet the government had 
taken no census of its Protestant subjects in these coun- 
tries, but the new sect, it was aware, was a vast, compact 
republic, which extended its roots through all the mon- 
archies of Christendom, and the slighest disturbance in 
any of its most distant members vibrated to its centre. 
It was, as it were, a chain of threatening volcanoes, 
which, united by subterraneous passages, ignite at the 
same moment with alarming sympathy. The Netherlands 


\7ere, necessarily, open to all nations, because they derived 
their support from all. Was it possible for Philip to 
close a commercial state as easily as he could Spain ? If 
he wished to purify these provinces from heresy it 
was necessary for him to commence by extirpating it in 


It was in this state that Granvella found the Nethep 
lands at the beginning of his administration (1560). 

To restore to these countries the uniformity of papistry, 
to break the co-ordinate power of the nobility and the 
states, and to exalt the royal authority on the ruins of 
republican freedom, was the great object of Spanish policy 
and the express commission of the new minister. But 
obstacles stood in the way of its accomplishment; to 
conquer these demanded the invention of new resources, 
the application of new machinery. The Inquisition, 
indeed, and the religious edicts appeared sufficient to 
check the contagion of heresy ; but the latter required 
superintendence, and the former able instruments for its 
now extended jurisdiction. The church constitution con- 
tinued the same as it had been in earlier times, when the 
provinces were less populous, when the church still enjoyed 
universal repose, and could be more easily overlooked and 
controlled. A succession of several centuries, which 
changed the whole interior form of the provinces, had 
left the form of the hierarchy unaltered, which, moreover, 
was protected from the arbitrary will of its ruler by the 
particular privileges of the provinces. All the seventeen 
provinces were parcelled out under four bishops, who had 
their seats at Arras, Tournay, Cambray, and Utrecht, and 
were subject to the primates of Rheims and Cologne. 
Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, had, indeed, medi- 
tated an increase in the number of bishops to meet the 
wants of the increasing population ; but, unfortunately, 
in the excitement of a life of pleasure had abandoned 
the project. Ambition and lust of conquest withdrew 
the mind of Charles the Bold from the internal concerns 
of his kingdom, and Maximilian had already too many 
subjects of dispute with the states to venture to add to 
their number by proposing this change. A stormy reign 
prevented Charles V. from the execution of this extens- 


ive plan, which Philip II. now undertook as a bequest 
from all these princes. The moment had now arrived 
when the urgent necessities of the church would excuse 
the innovation, and the leisure of peace favored its 
accomplishment. With the prodigious crowd of people 
from all the countries of Europe who were crowded 
together in the towns of the Netherlands, a multitude of 
religious opinions had also grown up ; and it was impos- 
sible that religion could any longer be effectually super- 
intended by so few eyes as were formerly sufficient. 
While the number of bishops was so small their districts 
must, of necessity, have been proportionally extensive, 
and four men could not be adequate to maintain the 
purity of the faith through so wide a district. 

The jurisdiction which the Archbishops of Cologne and 
Kheims exercised over the Netherlands had long been a 
gtumbling-block to the government, which could not look 
on this territory as really its own property so long as 
such an important branch of power was still wielded by 
foreign hands. To snatch this prerogative from the alien 
archbishops ; by new and active agents to give fresh life 
and vigor to the superintendence of the faith, and at the 
same time to strengthen the number of the partisans 
of government at the diet, no more effectual means could 
be devised than to increase the number of bishops. 
Resolved upon doing this Philip II. ascended the throne ; 
but he soon found that a change in the hierarchy would 
inevitably meet with warm opposition from the provinces, 
without whose consent, nevertheless, it would be vain to 
attempt it. Philip foresaw that the nobility would never 
approve of a measure which would so strongly augment 
the royal party, and take from the aristocracy the pre- 
ponderance of pow(T in the diet. The revenues, too, for 
the maintenance of these new bishops must be diverted 
from the abbots and monks, and these formed a consider- 
able part of the states of the realm. He had, besides, to 
fear the opposition of the Protestants, who would not 
fail to act secretly in the diet against him. On these 
accounts the whole affair was discussed at Rome with the 
greatest possible secrecy. Instructed by, and as the agent 
of, Granvella, Francis Sonnoi, a priest of Louvain, cam© 


before Paul IV. to inform him how extensive the prov- 
inces were, how thriving and populous, how hixurious in 
their prosperity. But, he continued, in the immoderate 
enjoyment of liberty the true faith is neglected, and 
heretics prosper. To obviate this evil the Romish See 
must have recourse to extraordinary measures. It was 
not difficult to prevail on the Romish pontiff to make a 
change which would enlarge the sphere of his own juris- 

Paul IV. appointed a tribunal of seven cardinals to 
deliberate upon this important matter; but death called 
him away, and he left to his successor, Pius IV., the 
duty of carrying their advice into execution. The wel- 
come tidings of the pope's determination reached the 
king in Zealand when he was just on the point of setting 
sail for Spain, and the minister was secretly charged with 
the dangerous reform. The new constitution of the 
hierarchy was published in 1560 ; in addition to the then 
existing four bishoprics thirteen new ones were estab- 
lished, according to the number of seventeen provinces, 
and four of them were raised into archbishoprics. Six of 
thesee piscopal sees, viz., in Antwerp, Herzogenbusch, 
Ghent, Bruges, Ypres, and Ruremonde, were placed 
under the Archbishopric of Malines ; five others, Haarlem, 
Middelburg, Leuwarden, Deventer, and Groningen, under 
the Archbishopric of Utrecht ; and the remaining four. 
Arras, Tournay, St. Omer, and Namur, which lie nearest 
to France, and have language, character, and manners in 
common with that country, under the Archbishopric of 
Cambray. Malines, situated in the middle of Brabant 
and in the centre of all the seventeen provinces, was 
made the primacy of all the rest, and was, with several 
rich abbeys, the reward of Granvella. The revenues of 
the new bishoprics were provided by an appropriation of 
the treasures of the cloisters and abbeys which had accu- 
mulated from pious benefactions during centuries. Some 
of the abbots were raised to the episcopal throne, and 
with the possession of their cloisters and prelacies retained 
also the vote at the diet which was attached to them. At 
the same time to every bishopric nine prebends were 
attached, and bestowed on the most learned juris-consult- 


ists and theoio^^ians, who were to support the Inquisition 
and the bishop in his spiritual office. Of these, the two 
who were most deserving by knowledge, experience, and 
anblemished life were to be constituted actual inquisi- 
tors, and to have the first voice in the Synods. To the 
Archbishop of Malines, as metropolitan of all the seven- 
teen provinces, the full authority was given to appoint, 
or at discretion depose, archbishops and bishops ; and the 
Romish See was only to give its ratification to his acts. 

At any other period the nation would have received 
with gratitude and approved of such a measure of church 
reform since it was fully called for by circumstances, was 
conducive to the interests of religion, and absolutely in- 
dispensable for the moral reformation of the monkhood. 
Now the temper of the times saw in it nothing but 
a hateful change. Universal was the indignation with 
which it was received. A cry was raised that the con- 
stitution was trampled under foot, the rights of the nation 
violated, and that the Inquisition was already at the door, 
and would soon open here, as in Spain, its bloody tribu- 
nal. The people beheld with dismay these new servants 
of arbitrary power and of persecution. The nobility saw 
in it nothing but a strengthening of the royal authority 
by the addition of fourteen votes in the states' assembly, 
and a withdrawal of the firmest prop of their freedom, 
the balance of the royal and the civil power. The old 
bishops complained of the diminution of their incomes 
and the circumscription of their sees ; the abbots and 
monks had not only lost power and income, but had 
received in exchange rigid censors of their morals. Noble 
and simple, laity and clergy, united against the common 
foe, and while all singly struggled for some petty private 
interest, the cry appeared to come from the formidable 
voice of patriotism. 

Among all the provinces Brabant was loudest in its 
opposition. The inviolability of its church constitution 
was one of the important privileges which it had reserved 
in the remarkable charter of the " Joyful Entry," — 
statutes which the sovereign could not violate without 
releasinof the nation from its allefyiance to him. In vain 
did the university of Louvain assert that in disturbed 


tim33 of the church a privilege lost its power which had 
been granted in the period of its tranquillity. The intro- 
duction of the new bishoj^rics into the constitution was 
thought to shake the whole fabric of liberty. The prela- 
cies, which were now transferred to the bishops, must 
henceforth serve another rule than the advantage of the 
province of whose states they had been members. The 
once free patriotic citizens were to be instruments of 
the Romish See and obedient tools of the archbishop, 
who again, as first prelate of Brabant, had the immediate 
control over them. The freedom of voting was gone, 
because the bishops, as servile spies of the crown, made 
every one fearful. " Who," it was asked, " will after this 
venture to raise his voice in parliament before such 
observers, or in their presence dare to protect the rights 
of the nation against the rapacious hands of the govern- 
ment ? They will trace out the resources of the provinces^ 
and betray to the crown the secrets of our freedom and 
our property. They will obstruct the way to all officen 
of honor ; we shall soon see the courtiers of the king sue- 
ceed the present men ; the children of foreigners will, for 
the future, fill the parliament, and the private interest o! 
their patron will guide their venal votes." " What an act 
of oppression," rejoined the monks, " to pervert to othei 
objects the pious designs of our holy institutions, to con- 
temn the inviolable wishes of the dead, and to take that 
which a devout charity had deposited in our chests for 
the relief of the unfortunate and make it subservient to 
the luxury of the bishops, thus inflating their arrogant 
pomp with the plunder of the poor?" Not only the 
abbots and monks, who really did suffer by this act of 
appropriation, but every family which could flatter itself 
with the slightest hope of enjoying, at some time or 
other, even in the most remote posterity, the benefit oi 
this monastic foundation, felt this disappointment of their 
distant expectations as much as if they had suffered an 
actual injury, and the wrongs of a few abbot-prelates 
became the concern of a whole nation. 

Historians have not omitted to record the covert pro- 
ceedings of William of Orange during this general com- 
motion, who labored to conduct to one end these varioua 


and conflicting passions. At his instigation the people 
of Brabant petitioned the regent for an advocate and 
protector, since they alone, of all his Flemish subjects, 
had the misfortune to unite, in one and the same person, 
their counsel and their ruler. Had the demand been 
granted, their choice could fall on no other than the 
Prince of Orange. But Granvella, with his usual presence 
of mind, broke through the snare. " The man who re- 
ceives this office," he declared in the state council, "will, 
I hope, see that he divides Brabant with the king ! " 
Tlie long delay of the papal bull, which was kept back 
by a misunderstanding between the Romish and Spanish 
courts, gave the disaffected an opportunity to combine 
for a common object. In perfect secrecy the states of 
Brabant despatched an extraordinary messenger to Pius 
lY. to urge their wishes in Rome itself. The ambas- 
sador was provided with important letters of recom- 
mendation from the Prince of Orange, and carried with 
him considerable sums to pave his way to the father 
of the church. At the same time a public letter was 
forwarded from the city of Antwerp to the King of Spain 
containing the most urgent representations, and suppli- 
cating him to spare that flourishing commercial town 
from the threatened innovation. They knew, it was 
stated, that the intentions of the monarch were the best, 
and that the institution of the new bishops was likely to 
be highly conducive to the maintenance of true religion ; 
but the foreiojners could not be convinced of this, and on 
them depended the prosperity of their town. Among 
them the most groundless rumors w^ould be as perilous as 
the most true. The first embassy was discovered in time, 
and its object disappointed by the prudence of the regent ; 
by the second the town of Antwerp gained so far its 
point that it was to remain without a bishop, at least until 
the personal arrival of the king, which was talked of. 

The example and success of Antwerp gave the signal 
of opposition to all the other towns for which a new 
bishop was intended. It is a remarkable proof of the 
hatred to the Inquisition and the unanimity of the Flem- 
ish towns at this date that they preferred to renounce 
all the advantages which the residence of a bishop 


would necessarily bring to their local trade rather than 
by their consent promote that abhorred tribunal, and 
thus act in opposition to the interests of the whole nation. 
Deventer, Ruremond, and Leuwarden placed themselves 
in determined op2)osition, and (1561) successfully carried 
their point ; in the other towns the bishops were, in 
spite of all remonstrances, forcibly inducted. Utrecht, 
Haarlem, St. Omer, and Middelburg were among the first 
wliich opened their gates to them ; the remaining towns 
followed their example ; but in Malines and Herzogen- 
busch the bisho23s were received with very little respect. 
When Granvella made his solemn entry into the former 
town not a single nobleman showed himself, and his 
triumph was wanting in everything that could make it 
real, because those remained away over whom it was 
meant to be celebrated. 

In the meantime, too, the period had elapsed within 
which the Spanish troops were to have left the country, 
and as yet there was no appearance of their being with- 
drawn. People perceived with terror the real cause of 
the delay, and suspicion lent it a fatal connection with the 
Inquisition. The detention of these troops, as it rendered 
the nation more vigilant and distrustful, made it more 
difficult for the minister to proceed with the other inno- 
vations, and yet he would fain not deprive himself of this 
powerful and apparently indispensable aid in a country 
where all hated him, and in the execution of a commission 
to which all were opposed. At last, however, the regent 
saw herself compelled by the universal murmurs of dis- 
content, to urge most earnestly upon the king the neces- 
sity of the withdrawal of the troops. " The provinces," 
she writes to Madrid, "have unanimously declared that 
they would never again be induced to grant the extraor- 
dinary taxes required by the government as long as word 
was not kept with them in this matter. The danger of a 
revolt was far more imminent than that of an attack by 
the French Protestants, and if a rebellion was to take 
place in the Netherlands these forces would be too weak 
to repress it, and there was not sufficient money in the 
treasury to enlist new." By delaying his answer the king 
still sought at least to gain time, and the reiterated rep. 


rescntations of the regent would still have remained 
ineffectual, if, fortunately for the provinces, a loss whiclj 
he had lately suffered from the Turks had not compelled 
him to employ these troops in the Mediterranean. He, 
therefore, at last consented to their departure : they were 
embarked in 1561 in Zealand, and the exulting shouts of 
all the provinces accompanied their departure. 

Meanwhile Granvella ruled in the council of state 
almost uncontrolled. All offices, secular and spiritual, 
were given away through him; his opinion prevailed 
against the unanimous voice of the whole assembly. The 
regent lierself was governed by him. He had contrived 
to manage so that her appointment was made out for two 
years only, and by this expedient he kept her always in 
his power. It seldom happened that any important 
affair was submitted to the other members, and if it 
really did occur it was only such as had been long before 
decided, to which it was only necessary for formality's 
sake to gain their sanction. Whenever a royal letter 
was read Viglius received instructions to omit all such 
passages as were underlined by the minister. It often 
happened that this correspondence with Spain laid open 
the weakness of the government, or the anxiety felt by 
the regent, with which it was not expedient to inform 
the members, whose loyalty was distrusted. If again it 
occurred that the opposition gained a majority over the 
minister, and insisted with determination on an article 
which he could not well put off any longer, he sent it to 
the ministry at Madrid for their decision, by which he 
at least gained time, and in any case was certain to find 
support. With the exception of the Count of Barlaimont, 
the President Viglius, and a few others, all the other 
counsellors were but superfluous figures in the senate, 
and the minister's behavior to them marked the small 
value which he placed upon their friendship and adher- 
ence. No wonder that men whose pride had been so 
greatly indulged by the flattering attentions of sovereign 
princes, and to whom, as to the idols of their country^ 
their fellow-citizens paid the most reverential submission, 
should be highly indignant at this arrogance of a plebeian. 
Many of them had been personally insulted by Gran^'ella 


The Prince of Orange was well aware that it was he who 
had prevented his marriage with the Princess of Lorraine, 
and that he had also endeavored to break oft' the negotia- 
tions for another alliance with the Princess of Savoy. 
He had deprived Count Horn of the government of 
Gueldres and Zutphen, and had kept for himself an abbey 
which Count Egmont had in vain exerted himself to 
obtain for a relation. Confident of his superior power, he 
did not even think it worth while to conceal from the 
nobility his contempt for them, and which, as a rule, 
marked his whole administration ; William of Orange 
was the only one with whom he deemed it advisable to 
dissemble. Although he really believed himself to be 
raised far above all the laws of fear and decorum, still 
in this point, however, his confident arrogance misled 
him, and he erred no less against policy than he sinned 
against propriety. In the existing posture of affairs the 
government could hardly have adopted a worse measure 
than that of throwing disrespect on the nobility. It had 
it in its power to flatter the prejudices and feelings of the 
aristocracy, and thus artfully and imperceptibly wdn them 
over to its plans, and through them subvert the edifice 
of national liberty. Now it admonished them, most in- 
opportunely, of their duties, their dignity, and their 
power ; calling upon them even to be patriots, and to 
devote to the cause of true greatness an ambition which 
hitherto it had inconsiderately repelled. To carry into 
effect the ordinances it required the active co-operation 
of the lieutenant-governors ; no wonder, however, that 
the latter showed but little zeal to afford this assistance. 
On the contrary, it is highly probable that they silently 
labored to augment the difficulties of the minister, and. to 
subvert his measures, and through his ill-success to 
diminish the king's confidence in him, and expose his 
administration to contempt. The rapid progress which 
in spite of those horrible edicts the Reformation made 
during Granvella's administration in the Netherlands, is 
evidently to be ascribed to the lukewarmness of the 
nobility in opposing it. If the minister had been sure 
of the nobles he might have despised the fury of the mob, 
which would have impotently dashed itself against the 


dreaded barriers of the throne. The sufferings of the 
citizens lingered long in tears and sighs, until the arts and 
the example of the nobility called forth a louder expres- 
sion of them. 

Meanwhile the inquisitions into religion were carried 
on with renewed vigor by the crowd of new laborers 
(1561, 1562), and the edicts against heretics were enforced 
with fearful obedience. But the critical moment when 
this detestable remedy might have been applied was 
allowed to pass by ; the nation had become too strong and 
vigorous for such rough treatment. The new religion could 
now be extirpated only by the death of all its professors. 
The present executions were but so many alluring ex- 
hibitions of its excellence, so many scenes of its triumphs 
and radiant virtue. The heroic greatness with which the 
victims died made converts to the opinions for which 
they perished. One martyr gained ten new proselytes. 
Not in towns only, or villages, but on the very highways, 
in the boats and public carriages disputes were held 
touching the dignity of the pope, the saints, purgatory, 
and indulgences, and sermons were preached and men 
converted. From the country and from the towns the 
common people rushed in crowds to rescue the prisoners 
of the Holy Tribunal from the hands of its satellites, and 
the municipal officers who ventured to support it with the 
civil forces were pelted with stones. Multitudes accom- 
panied tlie Protestant preachers whom the Inquisition 
pursued, bore them on their shoulders to and from church, 
and at the risk of their lives concealed them from their 
persecutors. The first province which was seized with 
the fanatical spirit of rebellion was, as had been expected, 
Walloon Flanders. A French Calvinist, by name Lannoi, 
set himself up in Tournay as a worker of miracles, where 
he hired a few women to simulate diseases, and to pretend 
to be cured by him. He preached in the woods near the 
town, drew the people in great numbers after him, and 
scattered in their minds the seeds of rebellion. Similar 
teachers appeared in Lille and Valenciennes, but in the 
iatter place the municipal functionaries succeeded in 
seizing the persons of these incendiaries ; while, however, 
they delayed to execute them their followers increased 


SO rapidly that they became sufficiently strong to break 
open the prisons and forcibly deprive justice of its 
victims. Troops at last were brought into the town and 
order restored. But this trifling occurrence had for a 
moment withdrawn the veil which had hitherto concealed 
the strength of the Protestant party, and allowed the 
minister to compute their prodigious numbers. In Tour- 
nay alone five thousand at one time had been seen attend- 
ing the sermons, and not many less in Valenciennes. 
What might not be expected from the northern provinces, 
where liberty was greater, and the seat of government 
more remote, and where the vicinity of Germany and 
Denmark multiplied the sources of contagion? One 
slight provocation had sufiiced to draw from its conceal- 
ment so formidable a multitude. How much greater was, 
perhaps, the number of those who in their hearts acknowl- 
edged the new sect, and only waited for a favorable 
opportunity to publish their adhesion to it. This discovery 
greatly alarmed the regent. The scanty obedience paid 
to the edicts, the wants of the exhausted treasury, which 
compelled her to impose new taxes, and the suspicious 
movements of the Huguenots on the French frontiers 
still further increased her anxiety. At the same time 
she received a command from Madrid to send off two 
thousand Flemish cavalry to the army of the Queen 
Mother in France, who, in the distresses of the civil war, 
had recourse to Philip II. for assistance. Every affair of 
faith, in whatever land it might be, was made by Philip 
his own business. He felt it as keenly as any catastrophe 
which could befall his own house, and in such cases 
alwaj^s stood ready to sacrifice his means to foreign 
necessities. If it were interested motives that here 
swayed him they were at least kingly and grand, and the 
bold support of his principles wins our admiration as 
much as their cruelty withholds our esteem. 

The regent laid before the council of state the royal 
wiW on the subject of these troops, but with a very warm 
opposition on the part of the nobility. Count Egmont 
and the Prince of Orange declared that the time was ill- 
chosen for stripping the Netherlands of troops, when the 
aspect of affairs rendered rather the enlistment of new 

7— SciiiLLEB Vol. VII. 


levies advisable. The movements of the troops in France 
momentarily threatened a surprise, and the commotions 
within the provinces demanded, more than ever, the ut- 
most vigilance on the part of the government. Hitherto, 
they said, the German Protestants had looked idly on 
during the struggles of their brethren in the faith ; but 
will they continue to do so, especially when we are lend- 
ing our aid to strengthen their enemy ? By thus acting 
shall we not rouse their vengeance against us, and call 
their arms into the northern Kelherlands? Nearly 
the whole council of state joined in this opinion ; their 
representations were energetic and not to be gainsaid. 
The regent herself, as well as the minister, could not but 
feel their truth, and their own interests appeared to for- 
bid obedience to the royal mandate. Would it not be 
impolitic to withdraw from the Inquisition its sole prop 
by removing the larger portion of the army, and in a 
rebellious country to leave themselves without defence, 
dependent on the arbitrary will of an arrogant aristoc- 
racy? While the regent, divided between the royal 
commands, the urgent importunity of her council, and 
her own fears, could not venture to come to a decision, 
William of Orange rose and proposed the assembling of 
the States General. But nothing could have inflicted a 
more fatal blow on the supremacy of the crown than by 
yielding to this advice to put the nation in mind of its 
power and its rights. Ko measure could be more hazard- 
ous at the present moment. The danger which was thus 
gathering over the minister did not escape him ; a sign 
from him warned the regent to break off the consultation 
and adjourn the council. "The government," be writes 
to Madrid, ''can do nothing more injurious to itself than 
to consent to the assembling of the states. Such a step 
is at all times perilous, because it tempts the nation to 
test and restrict the rights of the crown ; but it is many 
times more objectionable at the present moment, when 
the spirit of rebellion is already widely spread amongst 
us; when the abbots, exasperated at the loss of their 
income, will neglect nothing to impair the dignity of the 
bishops ; when the whole nobility and all the deputies 
from the towns are led by the arts of the Prince of 




Orange, and the disaffected can securely reckon on the 
assistance of the nation." This representation, which at 
least was not wanting in sound sense, did not fail in 
having the desired effect on the king's mind. The as- 
sembling of the states was rejected once and forever, 
the penal statutes against the heretics were renewed in 
all their rigor, and the regent was directed to hasten the 
despatch of the required auxiliaries. 

But to this the council of state would not consent. 
All that she obtained was, instead of the troops, a supply 
of money for the Queen Mother, which at this crisis was 
still more welcome to her. In place, however, of assem- 
bling the states, and in order to beguile the nation with, 
at least, the semblance of republican freedom, the regent 
summoned the governors of the provinces and the knights 
of the Golden Fleece to a special congress at Brussels, to 
consult on the present dangers and necessities of the 
state. When the President, Vigiius, had laid before 
them the matters on which they were summoned to de- 
liberate, three days were given to them for consideration. 
During this time the Prince of Orange assembled them 
in his palace, where he represented to them the necessity 
of coming to some unanimous resolution before the next 
sittinir* and of aocreeingr on the measures which ou2fht to 
be followed in the present dangerous state of affairs. 

The majority assented to the propriety of this course; 
only Barlaimont, with a few of the dependents of the 
cardinal, had the courage to plead for the interests of the 
crown and of the minister. " It did not behoove them," 
he said, " to interfere in the concerns of the government, 
and this previous agreement of votes was an illegal and 
culpable assumption, in the guilt of which he would not 
participate ; " — a declaration which broke up the meet- 
ing without any conclusion being come to. The regent, 
apprised of it by the Count Barlaimont, artfully con- 
trived to keep the knights so well employed during their 
stay in the town that they could find no time for coming 
to any further secret understanding; in this session, 
however, it was arranged, with their concurrence, that 
Florence of Montmorency, Lord of Montigny, should 
make a journey to Spain, in order to acquaint the king 


with the present j^osture of affairs. But the regent sent 
before liini another messenger to Madrid, who previously 
informed the king of all that had been debated between 
the Prince of Orange and the knights at the secret con- 

The Flemish ambassador was flattered in Madrid with 
empty protestations of the king's favor and paternal sen- 
timents towards the Netherlands, while the regent was 
commanded to thwart, to the utmost of her power, the 
secret combinations of the nobility, and, if possible, to 
sow discord among their most eminent members. Jeal- 
ousy, private interest, and religious differences had long 
divided many of the nobles ; their share in the common 
neglect and contempt w^ith which they were treated, and 
a general hatred of the minister had again united them. 
So long as Count Egmont and the Prince of Orange 
w^ere suitors for the regency it could not fail but that at 
times their competing claims should have brought them 
into collision. Both had met each other on the road to 
glory and before the throne ; both again met in the re- 
public, where they strove for the same prize, the favor of 
their fellow-citizens. Such opposite characters soon be- 
came estranged, but the powerful sympathy of necessity 
as quickly reconciled them. Each was now indispensable 
to the other, and the emergency united these two men 
together with a bond which their hearts would never 
have furnished. But it was on this very uncongeniality 
of disposition that the regent based her plans ; if she 
could fortunately succeed in separating them she would 
at the same time divide the whole Flemish nobility into 
two parties. Through the presents and small attentions 
by which she exclusively honored these two she also 
sought to excite against them the envy and distrust of 
the rest, and by appearins^ to give Count Egmont a pref- 
erence over the Prince of Orange she hoped to make the 
latter suspicious of Egmont's good faith. It happened 
that at this very time she was obliged to send an extraor- 
dinary ambassador to Frankfort, to be present at the 
election of a Roman emperor. She chose for this office 
the Duke of Arschot, the avowed enemy of the prince, 
in order in some degree to show in his case how splendid 


was the reward which hatred against the latter might 
look for. 

The Orange faction, however, instead of suffering any 
diminution, had gained an important accession in Count 
Horn, who, as admiral of the Flemish marine, had con- 
voyed the king to Biscay, and now again took his seat in 
the council of state. Horn's restless and republican 
spirit readily met the daring schemes of Orange and 
Egmont, and a dangerous Triumvirate was soon formed 
by these three friends, which shook the royal power in 
the Ketherlands, but which terminated very differently 
for each of its members. 

(1562.) Meanwhile Montigny had returned from his 
embassy, and brought back to the council of state the 
most gracious assurance of the monarch. But the Prince 
of Orange had, through hi« own secret channels of intel- 
ligence, received more cre»Hble information from Madrid, 
which entirely contradicted this report. By these means 
he learnt all the ill services which Granvella had done 
him and his friends with the king, and the odious appel- 
lations which were there applied to the Plemish nobility. 
There was no help for them so long as the minister re- 
tained the helm of government, and to procure his dis- 
missal was the scheme, however rash and adventurous it 
appeared, which wholly occupied the mind of the prince. 
It was agreed between him and Counts Horn and Eg- 
mont to despatch a joint letter to the king, and, in the 
name of the whole nobility, formally to accuse the min- 
ister, and press energetically for his removal. The Duke 
of Arschot, to whom this proposition was communicated 
by Count Egmont, refused to concur in^ it, hauglitily 
■^leclaring that he was not disposed to receive laws from 
Egmont and Orange ; that he had no cause of complaint 
against Granvella, and that he thought it very presump- 
tuous to prescribe to the king what ministers he ought to 
employ. Orange received a similar answer from the 
Count of Aremberg. Either the seeds of distrust which 
the regent had scattered amongst the nobility had already 
taken root, or the fear of the minister's power outweighed 
the abhorrence of his measures ; at any rate, the whole 
nobility shrunk back timidly and irresolutely from the 


proposal. This disappointment did not, however, dia 
courage them. The letter was written and subscribed 
by all three (1568). 

In it Granvella was represented as the prime cause of 
all the disorders in the Netherlands. So long as the 
highest power should be entrusted to him it would, they 
declared, be impossible for them to serve the nation and 
king effectually; on the other hand, all would revert to 
its former tranquillity, all opposition be discontinued, and 
the government regain the affections of the people as 
soon as his majesty should be pleased to remove this man 
from the helm of the state. In that case, they added, 
neither exertion nor zeal would be wanting on their part 
to maintain in these countries the dignity of the king 
and the purity of the faith, which was no less sacred to 
them than to the cardinal, Granvella. 

Secretly as this letter was prepared still the duchess 
was informed of it in sufficient time to anticipate it by 
another despatch, and to counteract the effect which it 
might have had on the king's mind. Some months passed 
ere an answer came from Madrid. It was mild, but 
vague. " The king," such was its imjDort, " was not used 
to condemn his ministers unheard on the mere accusa- 
tions of their enemies. Common justice alone required 
that the accusers of the cardinal should descend from 
general imputations to special proofs, and if they were 
not inclined to do this in writing, one of them might 
come to Spain, where he should be treated w^ith all 
respect. Besides this letter, which was equally directed 
to all three. Count Egmont further received an autograph 
letter from the king, wherein his majesty expressed a wish 
to learn from him in particular what in the common letter 
had been only generally touched upon. The regent, also, 
was specially instructed how she was to answer the three 
collectively, and the count singly. The king knew his 
man. He felt it was easv to manag^e Count Eo-mont 
alone ; for this reason he sought to entice him to Madrid, 
where he would be removed from the commanding guid- 
ance of a hiofher intellect. In distinmiishimx him above 
his two friends by so flattering a mark of his confidence, 
he made a difference in the relation in which they sever- 


ally stood to the throne ; how could they, then, unite with 
equal zeal for the same object when the inducements 
were no longer the same ? This time, indeed, the vigil- 
ance of Orange frustrated the scheme ; but the sequel of 
the history will show that the seed which was now scat- 
tered was not altogether lost. 

(1563.) The king's answer gave no satisfaction to the 
three confederates ; they boldly determined to venture a 
second attempt. " It had," they wrote, " surprised them 
not a little, that his majesty had thought their represen. 
tations so unworthy of attention. It wao not as accusers 
of the minister, but as counsellors of his majesty, whose 
duty it was to inform their master of the condition of 
his states, that they had despatched that letter to him. 
They sought not the ruin of the minister, indeed it would 
gratify them to see him contented and happy in any other 
part of the world than here in the Netherlands. They 
were, however, fully persuaded of this, that his continued 
presence there was absolutely incompatible with the gen- 
eral tranquillity. The present dangerous condition of 
their native country would allow none of them to leave 
it, much less to take so long a journey as to Spain on 
Granvella's account. If, therefore, his majesty did not 
please to comply with their written request, they hoped 
to be excused for the future from attendance in the 
senate, where they were only exposed to the mortification 
of meeting the minister, and where they could be of no 
service either to the king or the state, but only appeared 
contemptible in their own sight. In conclusion, they 
begged his majesty would not take ill the plain simplicity 
of their languge, since persons of their character set 
more value on acting well than on speaking finely." To 
the same purport was a separate letter from Count 
Egmont, in which he returned thanks for the royal auto- 
graph. This second address was followed by an answer 
to the effect that " their representations should be taken 
into consideration, meanwhile they were requested to 
attend the council of state as heretofore." 

It was evident that the monarch was far from intendinsj 
to grant their request ; they, therefore, from this time 
forth absented themselves from the state council, and 


even left Brussels. Not having succeeded in removing the 
minister by lawful means they sought to accomplish this 
end by a new mode from which more might be expected. 
On every occasion they and their adherents openl}' 
showed the contempt which they felt for him, and con- 
trived to throw ridicule on everything he undertook. By 
this contemptuous treatment they ho^^ed to harass the 
haughty spirit of the priest, and to obtain through his 
mortified self-love what they had failed in by other means. 
In this, indeed, they did not succeed ; but the expedient 
on which they had fallen led in the end to the ruin of 
the minister. 

The popular voice was raised more loudly against him 
so soon as it was perceived that he had forfeited the good 
opinion of the nobles, and that men whose sentiments 
they had been used blindly to echo preceded them in 
detestation of him. The contemptuous manner in which 
the nobility now treated him devoted him in a measure 
to the general scorn and emboldened calunmy which 
never spares even what is holiest and purest, to lay its 
sacrilegious hand on his honor. The new constitution of 
the church, which was the great grievance of the nation, 
had been the basis of his fortunes. This was a crime that 
could not be forgiven. Every fresh execution — and 
with such spectacles the activity of the inquisitors was 
only too liberal — kept alive and furnished dreadful exer- 
cise to the bitter animosity against him, and at last custom 
and usage inscribed his name on every act of oppression. 
A stranger in a land into which he had been introduced 
against its will; alone among millions of enemies; un- 
certain of all his tools ; supported only by the weak arm 
of distant royalty ; maintaining his intercourse with the 
nation, which he had to gain, only by means of faithless 
Instruments, all of whom made it their highest object to 
falsify his actions and misrepresent his motives; lastly, 
with a woman for his coadjutor who could not share with 
bim the burden of the general execration — thus he stood 
exposed to the wantonness, the ingratitude, the faction, 
the envy, and all the evil passions of a licentious, insub- 
ordinate people. It is worthy of remark that the hatred 
which he had incurred far outran the demerits which 


could be laid to his charge ; that it was difficult, nay im- 
possible, for hm accusers to substantiate by proof the 
general condemnation which fell upon him from all sides. 
Before and after him fanaticism dragged its victims to 
the altar ; before and after him civil blood flowed, the 
rio"hts of men were made a mock of, and men themselves 
rendered wretched. Under Charles V. tyranny ought to 
have pained more acutely through its novelty; under 
the Duke of Alva it was carried to far more unnatural 
lengths, insomuch that Granvella's administration, in 
comparison with that of his successor, was even merciful ; 
and yet we do not find that his contemporaries ever 
evinced the same degree of personal exasperation and 
spite against the latter in which they indulged against 
his predecessor. To cloak the meanness of his birth in 
the splendor of high dignities, and by an exalted station 
to place him if possible above the malice of his enemies, 
the regent had made interest at Rome to procure for him 
the cardinal's hat ; but this very honor, which connected 
him more closely with the papal court, made him so 
much the more an alien in the provinces. The purple 
was a new crime in Brussels, and an obnoxious, detested 
garb, which in a measure publicly held forth to view the 
principles on which his future conduct would be governed. 
Neither his honorable rank, which alone often consecrates 
the most infamous caitiff, nor his talents, which com- 
manded esteem, nor even his terrible omnipotence, which 
daily revealed itself in so many bloody manifestations, 
could screen him from derision. Terror and scorn, the 
fearful and the ludicruous, were in his instance unnatur- 
ally blended.* Odious rumors branded his honor ; mur- 
derous attempts on the lives of Egmont and Orange were 
ascribed to him; the most incredible things found cre= 

* The nobility, at the suggestion of Count Egmont, caused their servants 
to wear a common livery, on which was embroidered a fool's cap. All 
Brussels interpreted it for the cardinal's hat, and every appearance of such 
a servant renewed their laughter ; this badge of a fool's cap, which was 
offensive to the court, was subsequently changed into a bundle of arrows — 
an accidental jest which took a very serious end, and probably was the origin 
of the arms of the republic. Vit. Vigl. T. II. 35 Thuan. 489. The respect for 
the cardinal sunk at last so low that a caricature was publicly placed in his 
own hand, in which he was represented seated on a heap of eggs, out of 
which bishops were crawling. Over him hovered a devil with the inscription 
~ " This is my son, hear ye him I " 


dence ; the most monstrous, if they referred to him ot 
were said to emanate from him, surprised no longer. 
The nation had already become uncivilized to that degree 
where the most contradictory sentiments prevail side by 
side, and the finer boundary lines of decorum and moral 
feeling are erased. This belief in extraordinary crimes 
is almost invariably their immediate precursor. 

But with this gloomy prosjDect the strange destiny of 
this man opens at the same time a grander view, which 
impresses the unprejudiced observer with pleasure and 
admiration. Here he beholds a nation dazzled by no 
splendor, and restrained by no fear, firmly, inexorably, 
and unpremeditatedly unanimous in punishing the crime 
w^hich had been committed against its dignity by the 
violent introduction of a stranger into the heart of its 
political constitution. We see him ever aloof and ever 
isolated, like a foreign hostile body hovering over a sur- 
face which repels its contact. The strong hand itself of 
the monarch, who was his friend and protector, could not 
support him against the antipathies of the nation which 
had once resolved to withhold from him all its sympathy. 
The voice of national hatred was all powerful, and was 
ready to forego even private interest, its certain gains ; 
his alms even were shunned, like the fruit of an accursed 
tree. Like pestilential vapor, the infamy of universal 
reprobation hung over him. In his case gratitude be- 
lieved itself absolved from its duties; his adherents 
shunned him ; his friends were dumb in his behalf. So 
terribly did the people avenge the insulted majesty of 
their nobles and their nation on the greatest monarch of 
the earth. 

History has repeated this memorable example only 
once, in Cardinal Mazarin ; but the instance differed ac- 
cording to the spirit of the two periods and nations. 
The highest power could not protect either from derision ; 
^ut if France found vent for its indignation in laughing 
at its pantaloon, the Netherlands hurried from scorn to 
rebellion. The former, after a long bondage under the 
vigorous administration of Richelieu, saw itself j^laced 
suddenly in unwonted liberty ; the latter had passed from 
ancient hereditary freedom into strange and unusual servi 


tude ; it was as natural that the Fronde should end again 
in subjection as that tlie Belgian troubles should issue in 
republican independence. The revolt of the Parisians 
was the offspring of poverty ; unbridled, but not bold, 
arrogant, but without energy, base and plebeian, like the 
source from which it sprang. The murmur of the Nether- 
lands was the proud and powerful voice of wealth. Licen- 
tiousness and hunger inspired the former ; revenge, life, 
property, and religion were the animating motives of the 
latter. Rapacity was Mazarin's spring of action ; Gran- 
vella's lust of power. The former was humane and mild; 
the latter harsh, imperious, cruel. The French minister 
sought in the favor of his queen an asylum from the 
hatred of the magnates and the fury of the people ; the 
Netherlandish minister provoked the hatred of a whole 
nation in order to please one man. Against Mazarin 
were only a few factions and the mob they could arm ; 
an entire and united nation against Gran veil a. Under 
the former p:irliament attempted to obtain, by stealth, 
a power which did not belong to them ; under the latter 
it struggled for a lawful authority which he insidiously had 
endeavored to wrest from them. The former had to 
contend with the princes of the blood and the peers of 
the realm, as the latter had with the native nobility and 
the states, but instead of endeavoring, like the former, 
to overthrow the common enemy, in the hope of stej^ping 
themselves into his place, the latter wished to destroy the 
place itself, and to divide a power which no single man 
ought to possess entire. 

While these feelings were spreading among the people 
the influence of the minister at the court of the regent 
began to totter. The repeated complaints against the 
extent of his power must at last have made her sensible 
how little faith was placed in her own ; perhaps, too, she 
began ta fear that the universal abhorrence w^hich at- 
tached to him would soon include herself also, or that 
his longer stay would inevitably provoke the menaced 
revolt. Lono^ intercourse with him, his instruction and 
example, had qualified her to govern without ]nm. His 
dignity began to be more oppressive to her as he became 
less necessary, and his faults, to which her friendship had 


oitherto lent a veil, became visible as it was withdrawn* 
She was now as much disposed to search out and enumer- 
ate these faults as she formerly had been to conceal 
them. In this unfavorable state of her feelings towards 
the cardinal the urgent and accumulated representations 
of the nobles began at last to find access to her mind, 
and the more easily, as they contrived to mix up her own 
fears with their own. " It was matter of great astonish- 
fiient," said Count Egmont to her, " that to gratify a man 
who was not even a Fleming, and of whom, therefore, it 
must be well known that his happiness could not be de- 
pendent on the prosperity of this country, the king could 
be content to see all his Ketherlandish subjects suffer, 
and this to please a foreigner, who if his birth made him 
a subject of the Emperor, the purple had made a creature 
of the court of Rome." " To the king alone," added the 
count, " was Granvella indebted for his being still among 
the living ; for the future, however, he would leave that 
care of him to the regent, and he hereby gave her 
warning." As the majority of the nobles, disgusted with 
the contemptuous treatment which they met with in the 
council of state, gradually withdrew from it, the arbitrary 
proceedings of the minister lost the last semblance of re- 
publican deliberation which had hitherto softened the 
odious aspect, and the empty desolation of the council 
chamber made his domineering rule appear in all its ob- 
noxiousness. The regent now felt that she had a master 
over her, and from that moment the banishment of the 
minister was decided upon. 

With this object she despatched her private secretary, 
Thomas Armenteros, to Spain, to acquaint the king with 
the circumstances in which the cardinal was placed, to 
apprise him of the intimations slie had received of the in- 
tentions of the nobles, and in this manner to cause 
the resolution for his recall to appear to emanate from the 
king himself. What she did not like to trust to a letter 
Armenteros was ordered ingeniously to interweave in the 
oral communication which the king would probably require 
from him. Armenteros fulfilled liis commission with all 
the ability of a consummate courtier; but an audience of 
four hours could not overthrow the work of many years, 


nor destroy in Philip's mind his opinion of his minister, 
which was there unalterably established. Long did the 
monarch hold counsel with his policy and his interest, 
until Granvella himself came to the aid of his wavering 
resolution and voluntarily solicited a dismissal, which, he 
feared, could not much longer be deferred. What the 
detestation of all the Netherlands could not effect the con- 
temptuous treatment of the nobility accomplished; he 
was at last weary of a ]30wer which was no longer feared, 
and exposed him less to envy than to infamy. 

Perhaps as some have believed he trembled for his life, 
which was certainly in more than imaginary danger ; 
perhaps he wished to receive his dismissal from the king 
under the shape of a boon rather than of a sentence, and 
after the example of the Romans meet with dignity a fate 
which he could no longer avoid. Philip too, it would ap- 
pear, preferred generously to accord to the nation a 
request rather than to yield at a later period to a demand, 
and hoped at least to merit their thanks by voluntarily 
conceding now what necessity would ere long extort. 
His fears prevailed over his obstinacy, and prudence over- 
came pride. 

Granvella doubted not for a moment what the decision 
of the king would be. A few days after the return of 
Armenteros he saw humility and flattery disappear from 
the few faces which had till then servilely smiled upon 
him; the last small crowd of base flatterers and eye- 
servants vanished from around his person; his threshold 
was forsaken ; he perceived that the fructifying warmth 
of royal favor had left him. 

Detraction, which had assailed him during his whole 
administration, did not spare him even in the moment of 
resignation. People did not scruple to assert that a short 
time before he laid down his office he had expressed a 
wish to be reconciled to the Prince of Orange and Count 
Egmont, and even offered, if their forgiveness could be 
hoped for on no other terms, to ask pardon of them on 
his knees. It was base and contemptible to sully the 
memory of a great and extraordinary man with such a 
charge, but it is still more so to hand it down uncontra- 
dicted to posterity. Granvella submitted to the royal 


command witli a dignified composure. Already had he 
written, a few months previously, to the Duke of Alva in 
Spain, to prepare him a place of refuge in Madrid, in case 
of his having to quit the Netherlands. The latter long 
bethought himself whether it was advisable to bring 
thither so dangerous a rival for the favor of his king, or 
to deny so important a friend such a valuable means of 
indulging his old hatred of the Flemish nobles. Revenge 
prevailed over fear, and he strenuously supported Gran- 
vella's request with the monarch. But his intercession 
was fruitless. Armenteros had persuaded the king that 
the minister's residence in Madrid would only revive, 
with increased violence, all the complaints of the Belgian 
nation, to which his ministry had been sacrificed ; for then, 
he said, he w^ould be suspected of poisoning the very 
source of that power, w hose outlets only he had hitherto 
been charged with corrupting. He therefore sent him to 
Burgundy, his native place, for which a decent pretext 
fortunately presented itself. The cardinal gave to his 
departure from Brussels the appearance of an unimportant 
journey, from which he would return in a few days. At 
the same time, however, all the state counsellors, w^ho, 
under his administration, had voluntarily excluded them- 
selves from its sittings, received a command from the 
court to resume their seats in the senate at Brussels. 
Although the latter circumstance made his return not 
very credible, nevertheless the remotest possibility of it 
sobered the triumph which celebrated his departure. 
The regent herself appears to have been undecided w^hat 
to think about the report ; for, in a fresh letter to the 
king, she repeated all the representations and arguments 
which ought to restrain him from restoring this minister. 
Granvella himself, in his correspondence with Barlaimont 
and Viglius, endeavored to keep alive this rumor, and at 
least to alarm with fears, however unsubstantial, the 
enemies whom he could no longer punish by his presence. 
Indeed, the dread of the influence of this extraordinary 
man was so exceedingly great that, to appease it, he was 
at last driven even from his home and his country. 

After the death of Pius IV., Granvella went to Rome, 
to be present at the election of a new pope, and at tlie 


same time to discharge some commissions of his master, 
whose confidence in him remained unshaken. Soon after, 
Philip made him viceroy of Naples, where he succumbed 
to the seductions of the climate, and the spirit which no 
vicissitudes could bend voluptuousness overcame. He 
was sixty-two years old when the king allowed him to 
revisit Spain, where he continued with unlimited powers 
to administer the affairs of Italy. A gloomy old age, and 
the self-satisfied pride of a sexagenarian administration 
made him a harsh and rigid judge of the opinions of 
others, a slave of custom, and a tedious panegyrist of past 
times. But the policy of the closing century had ceased 
to be the policy of the opening one. A new and younger 
ministry were soon weary of so imperious a superin- 
tendent, and Philip himself began to shun the aged coun- 
sellor, who found nothing worthy of praise but the deeds 
of his father. Nevertheless, when the conquest of Por- 
tugal called Philip to Lisbon, he confided to the cardinal 
the care of his Spanish territories. Finally, on an Italian 
tour, in the town of Mantua, in the seventy-third year of 
his life, Granvella terminated his long existence in the 
full enjoyment of his glory, and after possessing for forty 
years the uninterrupted confidence of his king. 


(1564.) Immediately upon the departure of the min- 
ister, all the happy results which were promised from his 
withdrawal were fulfilled. The disaffected nobles re- 
sumed their seats in the council, and again devoted them- 
selves to the affairs of the state with redoubled zeal, in 
order to give no room for regret for him whom they had 
driven away, and to prove, by the fortunate administra- 
tion of the state, that his services were not indispensable. 
The crowd round the duchess was great. All vied with 
one another in readiness, in submission, and zeal in her 
service ; the hours of night were not allowed to stop the 
transaction of pressing business of state ; the greatest 
unanimity existed between the three councils, the best 
understanding between the court and the states. From 
the obliging temper of the Flemish nobility everything 


was to 1)0 liacl, as soon as their i:)ride and self-will was 
flattered by confidence and obliging treatment. The 
regent took advantage of the first joy of the nation to 
beguile them into a vote of certain taxes, which, under 
the preceding administration, she could not have hoped 
to extort. In this, the great credit of the nobility effect- 
ually supported her, and she soon learned from this 
nation the secret, which had been so often verified in the 
German diet — that much must be demanded in oirder to 
get a little. 

With pleasure did the regent see herself emancipated 
from her long thraldom ; the emulous industry of the 
nobility lightened for her the burden of business, and 
their insinuating humility allowed her to feel the full 
sweetness of power. 

(1564). Granvella had been overthrown, but his party 
still remained. His policy lived in his creatures, whom 
he left behind him in the privy council and in the cham- 
ber of finance. Hatred still smouldered amongst the 
factious long after the leader was banished, and the names 
of the Orange and Royalist parties, of the Patriots and 
Cardinalists still continued to divide the senate and to 
keep up the flames of discord. Viglius Van Zuichem Van 
Aytta, president of the privy council, state counsellor 
and keeper of the seal, was now looked upon as the most 
important person in the senate, and the most powerful 
prop of the crown and the tiara. This highly meritorious 
old man, whom we have to thank for some valuable con- 
tributions towards the history of the rebellion of the Low 
Countries, and whose confidential correspondence with 
his friends has generally been the guide of our narrative, 
was one of the greatest lawyers of his time, as well as a 
theologian and priest, and had already, under the 
Emperor, filled the most important oflices. Familiar 
intercourse with the learned men who adorned the age, 
and at the head of whom stood Erasmus of Rotterdam, 
combined with frequent travels in the imperial service, 
had extended the spliere of his information and experi- 
ence, and in many points raised him in his principles and 
opinions above his contemporaries. The fame of his 
erudition filled the whole century in which he lived, and 


has handed his name down to posterity. When, in the 
year 1548^ the connection of the Netherlands with the 
German empire was to be settled at the Diet of Augs-. 
burg, Charles Y. sent hither this statesman to manage the 
interests of the provinces ; and his ability principally 
succeeded in turning the negotiations to the advantage of 
the Netherlands. After the death of the Emperor, Viglius 
was one of the many eminent ministers bequeathed to 
Philip by his father, and one of the few in whom he 
honored his memory. The fortune of the minister, Gran- 
vella, with whom he was united by the ties of an early 
acquaintance, raised him likewise to greatness ; but he 
did not share the fall of his patron, because he had not 
participated in his lust of power ; nor, consequently, the 
hatred which attached to him. A residence of twenty 
years in the provinces, where the most important affairs 
were entrusted to him, approved loyalty to his king, and 
zealous attachment to the Roman Catholic tenets, made 
him one of the most distinguished instruments of royalty 
in the Netherlands. 

Viglius was a man of learning, but no thinker; an 
experienced statesman, but without an enlightened ^nind ; 
of an intellect not sufficiently powerful to break, like his 
friend Erasmus, the fetters of error, yet not sufficiently 
Dad to employ it, like his predecessor, Granvella, in the 
service of his own passions. Too weak and timid to 
follow boldly the guidance of his reason, he preferred 
crusting to the more convenient path of conscience ; a 
thing was just so soon as it became his duty ; he belonged 
to those honest men who are indispensable to bad ones ; 
traud reckoned on his honesty. Half a century later he 
would have received his immortality from the freedom 
which he now helped to subvert. In the privy council 
at Brussels he was the servant of tyranny ; in the parlia- 
ment in London, or in the senate at Amsterdam, he 
would have died, perhaps, like Thomas More or Olden 

In the Count Barlaimont, the president of the council 
of finance, the opposition had a no less formidable antag- 
onist than in Yiglius. Historians have transmitted but 
little information regarding the services and the opinions 

8— Schiller Vol. VII. 


of this man. In the first part of his career the dazzlmg 
greatness of Cardinal Granvella seems to have cast a 
shade over him ; after the latter had disappeared from the 
stage the superiority of the opposite party kept him 
down, but still the little that we do find respecting him 
throws a favorable light over his character. More than 
once the Prince of Orange exerted himself to detach 
him from the interests of the cardinal, and to join him 
to his own party — sufficient proof that he placed a 
value on the prize. All his efforts failed, which shows 
that he had to do with no vacillating character. More 
than once we see him alone, of all the members of the 
council, stepping forward to oppose the dominant faction, 
and protecting against imiversal opposition the interests 
of the crown, which were in momentary peril of being 
sacrificed. When the Prince of Orange had assembled 
the knights of the Golden Fleece in his own palace, with 
a view to induce them to come to a preparatory resolution 
for the abolition of the Inquisition, Barlaimont was the 
first to denounce the illegality of this proceeding and to 
inform the regent of it. Some time after the prince 
asked him if the regent knew of that assembly, and Bar- 
laimont hesitated not a moment to avow to him the truth. 
All the steps which have been ascribed to him bespeak a 
man whom neither influence nor fear could tempt, — who, 
with a firm courage and indomitable constancy, remained 
faithful to the party which he had once chosen, but who, 
it must at the same time be confessed, entertained too 
proud and too despotic notions to have selected any other. 
Amongst the adherents of the royal party at Brussels, 
we have, further, the names of the Duke of Arschot, the 
Counts of Mansfeld, Megen, and Aremberg — all three 
native Netherlanders ; and therefore, as it appeared, 
bound equally with the whole Netherlandish nobility to 
oppose the hierarchy and the royal power in their native 
country. So much the more surprised must we feel at 
their contrary behavior, and which is indeed the more 
remarkable, since we find them on terms of friendship 
with the most eminent members of the faction, and any- 
thing but insensible to the common grievances of their 


But they had not self-confidence or heroism, enough to 
venture on an unequal contest with so superior an antag- 
onist. With a cowardly prudence they made their just 
discontent submit to the stern law of necessity, and 
imposed a hard sacrifice on their pride because their 
pampered vanity was capable of nothing better. Too 
thrifty and too discreet to wish to extort from the justice 
or the fear of their sovereign the certain good which 
they already possessed from his voluntary generosity, or 
to resign a real happiness in order to preserve the 
shadow of another, tliey rather emj)loyed the propitious 
moment to drive a traffic with their constancy, which, 
from the general defection of the nobility, had now risen 
in value. Caring little for true glory, they allowed their 
ambition to decide which party they should take ; for 
the ambition of base minds prefers to bow beneath the 
hard yoke of compulsion rather than submit to the gentle 
sway of a superior intellect. Small would have been the 
value of the favor conferred had they bestowed them- 
selves on tlie Prince of Orange ; but their connection 
with royalty made them so much the more formidable as 
opponents. There their names would have been lost 
among his numerous adherents and in the splendor of 
their rival. On the almost deserted side of the court 
their insignificant merit acquired lustre. 

The families of Nassau and Croi (to the latter belonged 
the Duke of Arschot) had for several reigns been com- 
petitors for infiuence and honor, and their rivalry had 
kept up an old feud between their families, which relig- 
ious differences finally made irreconcilable. The house 
of Croi from time immemorial had been renowned for its 
devout and strict observance of papistic rites and cere- 
monies ; the Counts of Nassau had gone over to the new 
sect — sufficient reasons why Philip of Croi, Duke of 
Arschot, should prefer a party which placed him the 
most decidedly in opposition to the Prince of Orange. 
The court did not fail to take advantage of this private 
feud, and to oppose so important an enemy to the in- 
creasing influence of the house of Nassau in the republic. 
The Counts Mansfeld and Megen had till lately been the 
confidential friends of Count Egmont. In common with 


him they had raised their voice against the minister, had 
joined him in resisting the Inquisition and the edicts, 
and had hitherto held with him as far as honor and duty 
would permit. But at these limits the three friends now 
separated. Egmont's unsuspecting virtue incessantly 
hurried him forwards on the road to ruin ; Mansfeld and 
Megen, admonished of the danger, began in good time 
to think of a safe retreat. There still exist letters which 
were interchanged between the Counts Egmont and 
Mansfeld, and which, although written at a later perioch 
give us a true picture of their former friendship. " If," 
replied Count Mansfeld to his friend, who in an amicable 
manner had reproved him for his defection to the king, 
" if formerly I was of opinion that the general good 
made the abolition of the Inquisition, the mitigation of 
the edicts, and the removal of the Cardinal Granvella 
necessary, the king has now acquiesced in this wish and 
removed the cause of complaint. We have already done 
too much against the majesty of the sovereign and the 
authority of the church ; it is high time for us to turn, 
if we would wish to meet the king, when he comes, with 
open brow and without anxiety. As regards my own 
person, I do not dread his vengeance ; with confident 
courage I would at his first summons present myself in 
Spain, and boldly abide ray sentence from his justice and 
goodness. I do not say this as if I doubted whether 
Count Egmont can assert the same, but he will act pru- 
dently in looking more to his own safety, and in removing 
suspicion from his actions. If I hear," he says, in con- 
clusion, "that he has allowed my admonitions to have 
their due weight, our friendship continues ; if not, I feel 
myself in that case strong enough to sacrifice all human 
ties to my duty and to honor." 

The enlarged power of the nobility exposed the repub- 
lic to almost a greater evil than that which it had just 
escaped by the removal of the minister. Impoverished 
by long habits of luxury, which at the same time had 
relaxed their morals, and to which they were now too 
much addicted to be able to renounce them, they yielded 
to the perilous opportunity of indulging tlieir ruling in- 
clination, and of again repairing the expiring lustre of 



their fortunes. Extravagance brought on the thirst for 
gain, and this introduced bribery. Secular and ecclesias- 
tical offices were publicly put up to sale ; posts of honor, 
privileges, and patents were sold to the highest bidder; 
even justice was made a trade. Whom the privy council 
had condemned was acquitted by the council of state, 
and what the former refused to grant was to be pur- 
chased from the latter. The council of state, indeed, 
subsequently retorted the charge on the two other coun- 
cils, but it forgot that it was its own example that cor- 
rupted them. The shrewdness of rapacity opened nevv 
sources of gain. Life, liberty, and religion were insured 
for a certain sum, like landed estates ; for gold, murder- 
ers and malefactors were free, and the nation was plun- 
dered by a lottery. The servants and creatures of the 
state, counsellors and governors of provances, were, with- 
out regard to rank or merit, pushed into the most impor- 
tant posts ;. whoever had a petition to present at court 
had to make his way through the governors of provinces 
and their inferior servants. No artifice of seduction was 
spared to implicate in these excesses the private secretary 
of the duchess, Thomas Armenteros, a man up to this 
time of irreproachable character. By pretended pro- 
fessions of attachment and friendship a successful attempt 
was made to gain his confidence, and by luxurious enter- 
tainments to undermine his principles ; the seductive 
example infected his morals, and new wants overcame 
his hitherto incorruptible integrity. He was now blind 
to abuses in which he was an accomplice, and drew a 
veil over the crimes of others in order at the same time 
to cloak his own. With his knowledge the royal ex- 
chequer was robbed, and the objects of the government 
were defeated through a corrupt administration of its 
revenues. Meanwhile the regent wandered on in a fond 
dream of power and activity, which the flattery of tiie 
nobles artfully knew how to foster. The ambition of the 
factious played with the foibles of a woman, and with 
empty signs and an humble show of submission pur- 
chased real power from her. She soon belonged entirely 
to the faction, and had imperceptibly cimnged her prin- 
ciples. Diametrically opposing all her former proceed- 


ings, even in direct violation of her duty, slie now 
brought before the council of state, which was swayed 
by the faction, not only questions which belonged to the 
other councils, but also the suggestions which Viglius 
had made to her in private, in the same way as formerly, 
under Granvella's administration, she had improperly 
neglected to consult it at all. Nearly all business and all 
influence were now diverted to the governors of prov- 
inces. All petitions were directed to them, by them all 
lucrative appointments were bestowed. Their usurpations 
were indeed carried so far that law proceedings were with- 
drawn from the municipal authorities of the towns and 
brought before their own tribunals. The respectability of 
the provincial courts decreased as theirs extended, and 
with the respectability of the municipal functionaries the 
administration of justice and civil order declined. The 
smaller courts soon followed the example of the govern- 
ment of the country. The spirit which ruled the council 
of state at Brussels soon diffused itself through the prov- 
inces. Bribery, indulgences, robbery, venality of justice, 
were universal in the courts of judicature of the country ; 
morals degenerated, and the new sects availed themselves 
of this all-pervading licentiousness to propagate their 
opinions. The religious indifference or toleration of the 
nobles, who, either themselves inclined to the side of the 
innovators, or, at least, detested the Inquisition as an 
instrument of despotism, had mitigated the rigor of the 
religious edicts, and through the letters of indemnity, 
which were bestowed on many Protestants, the holy 
office was deprived of its best victims. In no w^ay could 
the nobility more agreeably announce to the nation its 
present share in the government of the country than by 
sacrificing to it the hated tribunal of the Inquisition — 
and to this inclination impelled them still more than the 
dictates of policy. The nation passed in a moment from 
the most oppressive constraint of intolerance into a state 
of freedom, to which, however, it had already become 
too unaccustomed to support it with moderation. The 
inquisitors, deprived of the support of the municipal 
authorities, found themselves an object of derision rather 
than of fear. In Bruges the town council caused even 


some of their own servants to be placed in confinement, 
and kept on bread and water, for attempting to lay hands 
upon a supposed heretic. About this very time the mob 
in Antwerp, having made a futile attempt to rescue a 
person charged with heresy from the holy office, there 
was placarded in the public market-place an inscription, 
written in blood, to the effect that a number of persons 
had bound themselves by oath to avenge the death of 
that innocent person. 

From the corruption which pervaded the whole council 
of state, the privy council, and the chamber of finance, 
in which Viglius and Barlaimont were presidents, had as 
yet, for the most part, kept themselves pure. 

As the faction could not succeed in insinuating their 
adherents into those two councils the only course open to 
them was, if possible, to render both inefficient, and to 
transfer their business to the council of state. To carry 
out this design the Prince of Orange sought to secure the 
co-operation of the other state counsellors. " They were 
called, indeed, senators," he frequently declared to his 
adherents, "but others possessed the power. If gold was 
wanted to pay the troops, or when the question was how 
the spreading heresy was to be repressed, or the people 
kept in order, then they were consulted ; although in fact 
they were the guardians neither of the treasury nor of the 
laws, but only the organs through which the other two 
councils operated on the state. And yet alone they were 
equal to the whole administration of the country, which 
had been uselessly portioned out amongst three separate 
chambers. If they would among themselves only agree 
to reunite to the council of state these two important 
branches of government, which had been dissevered from 
it, one soul might animate the whole body." A plan was 
preliminarily and secretly agreed on, in accordance with 
which twelve new Knights of the Fleece were to be added 
to the council of state, the administration of justice 
restored to the tribunal at Malines, to which it originally 
belonged, the granting of letters of grace, patents, and so 
forth, assigned to the president, Viglius, while the man- 
ao-ement of the finances should be committed to it. All 
the difficulties, indeed, which the distrust of the court 


and its jealousy of the increasing power of the nobility 
would oppose to this innovation were foreseen and pro- 
vided against. In order to constrain the regent's assent, 
some of the principal officers of the army were put for- 
ward as a cloak, who were to annoy the court at Brussels 
with boisterous demands for their arrears of pay, and in 
case of refusal to threaten a rebellion. It was also con- 
trived to have the regent assailed with numerous petitions 
and memorials complaining of the delays of justice, and 
exaggerating the danger which was to be apprehended 
from the daily growth of heresy. Nothing was omitted 
to darken the picture of the disorganized state of society, 
of the abuse of justice, and of the deficiency in the 
finances, which w^as made so alarming that she awoke 
with terror from the delusion of prosperity in which she 
had hitherto cradled herself. She called the three coun- 
cils together to consult them on the means by which 
these disorders were to be remedied. The majority was 
in favor of sending an extraordinary ambassador to 
Spain, who by a circumstantial and vivid delineation 
should make the king acquainted with the true position 
of affairs, and if possible prevail on him to adopt efficient 
measures of reform. This proposition was opposed by 
Viglius, who, however, had not the slighest suspicion of 
the secret designs of the faction. "The evil complained 
of," he said, "is undoubtedly great, and one which can 
no longer be neglected with impunity, but it is not irre- 
mediable by ourselves. The administration of justice is 
certainly crippled, but the blame of this lies with the 
nobles themselves ; by their contemptuous treatment they 
have thrown discredit on the municipal authorities, who, 
moreover, are very inadequately supported by the gov- 
ernors of provinces. If heresy is on the increase it is 
because the secular arm has deserted the spiritual judges, 
and because the lower orders, following the example of the 
nobles, have thrown off all respect for those in authority. 
The provinces are undoubtedly oppressed by a heavy 
debt, but it has not been accumulated, as alleged, by any 
malversation of the revenues, but by the expenses of 
former wars and the king's present exigvmces ; still wise 
and prudent measures of finance might in a short time 


remove the burden. If the council of state would not be 
so profuse of its indulgences, its charters of immunity, 
and its exemptions ; if it would commence the reforma- 
tion of morals with itself, show greater respect to the 
laws, and do what lies in its power to restore to the 
municipal functionaries their former consideration ; in 
short, if the councils and the governors of provinces 
would only fulfil their own duties the present grounds of 
complaint would soon be removed. Why, then, send an 
ambassador to Spain, when as yet nothing has occurred 
to justify so extraordinary an expedient? If, however, 
the council thinks otherwise, he would not oppose the 
general voice ; only he must make it a condition of his 
concurrence that the principal instruction of the envoy 
should be to entreat the king to make them a speedy 

There was but one voice as to the choice of an envoy. 
Of all the Flemish nobles Count Egmont was the only one 
whose appointment would give equal satisfaction to both 
parties. His hatred of the Inquisition, his patriotic and 
liberal sentiments, and the unblemished integrity of his 
character, gave to the republic sufiicient surety for his 
conduct, while for the reasons already mentioned he could 
not fail to be welcome to the king. Moreover, Egmont's 
personal figure and demeanor were calculated on his first 
appearance to make that favorable impression which goes 
«o far towards winning the hearts of princes; and his 
engaging carriage would come to the aid of his eloquence, 
and enforce his petition with those persuasive arts which 
are indispensable to the success of even the most trifling 
suits to royalty. Egmont himself, too, wished for the 
embassy, as it would afford him the opportunity of adjust- 
ing, personally, matters with his sovereign. 

About this time the Council, or rather synod, of Trent 
closed its sittings, and published its decrees to the whole 
of Christendom. But these canons, far from accomplish- 
ing the object for which the synod was originally con- 
vened, and satisfying the expectation of religious parties, 
had rather widened the breach between them, and made 
the schism irremediable and eternal. 

The labors of the synod instead of purifying the 


Romisli Church from its corruptions had only reduced 
the latter to greater definiteness and precision, and in- 
vested them with the sanction of authority. All the 
subtilties of its teaching, all the arts and usurpations of 
the Roman See, which had hitherto rested more on arbi- 
trary usage, were now passed into laws and raised into a 
svstem. The uses and abuses which during- the barbarous 
times of ignorance and superstition had crept into Chris- 
tianity were now declared essential parts of its Avorship, 
and anathemas were denounced upon all who should dare 
to contradict the dogmas or neglect the observances of 
the Romish communion. All were anathematized who 
should either presume to doubt the miraculous power of 
relics, and refuse to honor the bones of martyrs, or should 
be so bold as to doubt the availing efficacy of the inter- 
cession of saints. The power of granting indulgences, 
the first source of the defection from the See of Rome, 
was now propounded in an irrefragable article of faith ; 
and the principle of monasticism sanctioned by an express 
decree of the synod, which allowed males to take the 
vows at sixteen and females at twelve. And while all 
the opinions of the Protestants were, without exception, 
condemned, no indulgence was shown to their errors or 
weaknesses, nor a single step taken to win them back by 
mildness to the bosom of the mother church. Amongst 
the Protestants the wearisome records of the subtle delib- 
erations of the Gynod, and the absurdity of its decisions, 
increased, if possible, the hearty contempt which they had 
long entertained for popery, and laid open to their con- 
troversialists new and hitherto unnoticed points of attack. 
It was an ill-judged step to bring the mysteries of the 
church too close to the glaring torch of reason, and to 
fight with syllogisms for the tenets of a blind belief. 

Moreover, the decrees of the Council of Trent were not 
satisfactory even to all the powers in conmi union with 
Rome. France rejected them entirely, both because she 
did not wish to displease the Huguenots, and also because 
she was offended by the supremacy which the pope arro- 
gated to himself over the council ; some of the Roman 
Catholic princes of Germany likewise declared against it 
Little, however, as Philip IL was pleased with many of 


its articles, which trenched too closely upon his own 
rights, for no monarch was ever more jealous of his pre- 
rogative ; highly as the pope's assumption of control over 
the council, and its arbitrary, precipitate dissolution had 
offended him; just as was his indignation at the slight 
which the pope had put upon his ambassador ; he never- 
theless acknowedged the decrees of the synod, even in 
its 2)resent form, because it favored his darling object — 
the extirpation of heresy. Political considerations were 
all postponed to this one religious object, and he com- 
manded the publication and enforcement of its canons 
throughout his dominions. 

The spirit of revolt, which was diffused through the 
Belgian provinces, scarcely required this new stimulus. 
There the minds of men w^ere in a ferment, and the char- 
acter of the Romish Church had sunk almost to the lowest 
point of contempt in the general opinion. Under such 
circumstances the imperious and frequently injudicious 
decrees of the council could not fail of being highly 
offensive ; but Philip II. could not belie his religious 
character so far as to allow a different religion to a por- 
tion of his subjects, even though they might live on a 
different soil and under different laws from the rest. 
The regent was strictly enjoined to exact in the Nether- 
lands the same obedience to the decrees of Trent which 
was yielded to them in Spain and Italy. 

They met, however, with the warmest opposition in the 
council of state at Brussels. "The nation," William of 
Orange declared, " neither would nor could acknowledge 
them, since they were, for the most part, opposed to the 
fundamental principles of their constitution ; and, for 
similar reasons, they had even been rejected by several 
Roman Catholic princes." The whole council nearly was 
on the side of Orange; a decided majority were for 
entreating the king either to recall the decrees entirely or 
at least to publish them under certain limitations. This 
proposition was resisted by Viglius, who insisted on a 
strict and literal obedience to the royal commands. "The 
church," he said, " had in all ages maintained the purity 
of its doctrines and the strictness of its discipline by 
means of such general councils. No more efficacious 


remedy could be opposed to the errors of opinion which 
had so long distracted their country than these very 
decrees, the rejection of which is now urged by the coun- 
cil of state. Even if they are occasionally at variance 
with the constitutional rights of the citizens this is an 
evil which can easily be met by a judicious and temperate 
application of them. For the rest it redounds to the 
honor of our sovereign, the King of Spain, that he alone, 
of all the princes of his time, refuses to yield his better 
judgment to necessity, and w^ill not, for any fear of conse- 
quences, reject measures which the welfare of the church 
demands, and which the happiness of his subjects makes 
a duty." 

But the decrees also contained several matters which 
affected the rights of the crown itself. Occasion was 
therefore taken of this fact to propose that these sections 
at least should be omitted from the proclamation. By 
this means the king might, it was argued, be relieved 
from these obnoxious and degrading articles by a happy 
expedient; the national liberties of the Netherlands might 
be advanced as the pretext for the omission, and the 
name of the republic lent to cover this encroachment on 
the authority of the synod. But the king had caused 
the decrees to be received and enforced in his other 
dominions unconditionally ; and it was not to be expected 
that he would give the other Roman Catholic powers 
such an example of opposition, and himself undermine 
the edifice whose foundation he had been so assiduous in 


Count Egmont was despatched to Spain to make a 
forcible representation to the king on the subject of these 
decrees ; to persuade him, if possible, to adopt a milder 
policy towards his Protestant subjects, and to propose to 
him the incorporation of the three councils, was the com- 
mission he received from the malcontents. By the regent 
he was charged to apprise the monarch of the refractory 
spirit of the people ; to convince him of the impossibility 
of enforcing these edicts of religion in their full severity; 
and lastly to acquaint him with the bad state of the 


military defences and the exhausted condition of the ex- 

The count's public instructions were drawn up by the 
President Viglius. They contained heavy complaints of 
the decay of justice, the growth of heresy, and the ex- 
haustion of the treasury. He was also to press urgently 
a personal visit from the king to the Netherlands. The 
rest was left to the eloquence of the envoy, who received 
a hint from the regent not to let so fair an opportunity 
escape of establishing himself in the favor of his sov- 

The terms in which the count's instructions and the 
representations which he was to make to the king were 
drawn up appeared to the Prince of Orange far too 
vague and general. "The president's statement," he 
said, "of our grievances comes very far short of the 
truth. How can the king apply the suitable remedies if 
we conceal from him the full extent of the evil ? Let us 
not represent the numbers of the heretics inferior to what 
it is in reality. Let us candidly acknowledge that they 
swarm in every province and in every hamlet, however 
small. Neither let us disguise from him the truth that 
they despise the penal statutes and entertain but little 
reverence for the government. What good can come of 
this concealment ? Let us rather openly avow to the 
king that the republic cannot long continue in its present 
condition. The privy council indeed will perhaps pro- 
nounce differently, for to them the existing disorders are 
welcome. For what else is the source of the abuse of 
justice and the universal corruption of the courts of law 
but its insatiable rapacity? How otherwise can the pomp 
and scandalous luxury of its members, whom we have 
seen rise from the dust, be supported if not by bribery ? 
Do not the people daily complain that no other key but 
gold can open an access to them ; and do not even their 
quarrels prove how little they are swayed by a care for 
the common weal? Are they likely to consult the public 
good who are the slaves of their private passions ? Do 
they think forsooth that we, the governors of the prov- 
inces are, with our soldiers, to stand ready at the beck 
aiid call of an infamous lictor? Let them set bounds to 


tlicir indulgences and free pardons which they so lavishly 
bestow on the very persons to whom we think it just and 
expedient to deny them. No one can remit the punish- 
ment of a crime without sinning against the society and 
contributing to the increase of the general evil. To my 
mind, and I have no hesitation to avow it, the distribution 
amongst so many councils of the state secrets and the 
affairs of government has always appeared highly objec- 
tionable. The council of state is sufficient for all the 
duties of the administration ; several patriots have al- 
ready felt this in silence, and I now openly declare it. It 
is my decided conviction that the only sufficient remedy 
for all the evils complained of is to merge the other two 
chambers in the council of state. This is the point which 
we must endeavor to obtain from the king, or the present 
embassy, like all others, will be entirely useless and in- 
effectual." The prince now laid before the assembled 
senate the plan which we have already described. Yig- 
lius, against whom this new proposition was individually 
and mainly directed, and whose eyes were now suddenly 
opened, was overcome by the violence of his vexation. 
The asjitaiion of his feelino-s was too much for his feeble 
body, and he was found, on the following morning, para- 
lyzed by apoplexy, and in danger of his life. 

His place was supplied by Jaachim Hopper, a member 
of the privy council at Brussels, a man of old-fashioned 
morals and unblemished integrity, the president's most 
trusted and worthiest friend."* To meet the wislies of 
the Orange party he made some additions to the instruc- 
tions of the ambassador, relating chiefly to the abolition 
of the Inquisition and the incorporation of the three 
councils, not so much with the consent of the regent as in 
the absence of her prohibition. Upon Count Egmont 
taking leave of the president, who had recovered from 
his attack, the latter requested him to procure in Spain 
permission to resign his appointment. His day, he de- 
clared, was past ; like the example of his friend and 
predecessor, Granvella, he wished to retire into the quiet 

* Vita Vigl. § 89. The person from whose memoirs I have already drawn 
so many illustrations of the times of this epoch. His subsequent journey 
to Spain gave rise to the correspondence between him and the president 
which is one of the most valuable documents for our history. 


01 private life, and to anticipate the uncertainty of 
fortune. His genius warned him of impending storm, by 
which he could have no desire to be overtaken. 

Count Egmont embarked on his journey to Spain in 
January, 1565, and was received there with a kindness 
and respect which none of his rank had ever before experi- 
enced. The nobles of Castile, taught by the king's 
example to conquer their feelings, or rather, true to his 
policy, seemed to have laid aside their ancient grudge 
against the Flemish nobility, and vied with one another 
in winning his heart by their affability. All his private 
matters were immediately settled to his wishes by the 
king, nay, even his expectations exceeded ; and during 
the whole period of his stay he had ample cause to boast 
of the hospitality of the monarch. The latter assured 
him in the strongest terms of his love for his Belgian 
subjects, and held out hopes of his acceding eventually to 
the general wish, and remitting somewhat of the severity 
of the religious edicts. At the same time, however, he 
appointed in Madrid a commission of theologians to whom 
he propounded the question, " Is it necessary to grant to 
the 2)rovinces the religious toleration they demand ? " As 
the majority of them were of opinion that the peculiar 
constitution of the Netherlands, and the fear of a rebellion 
might well excuse a degree of forbearance in their case, 
the question was repeated more pointedly. "He did not 
seek to know," he said, " if he might do so, but if he 
must." When the latter question was answered in the 
negative, he rose from his seat, and kneeling down before 
a crucifix prayed in these words: "Almighty Majesty, 
suffer me not at any time to fall so low as to consent to 
reign over those who reject thee ! " In perfect accord- 
ance with the spirit of this prayer were the measures 
which he resolved to adopt in the Netherlands. On the 
article of religion this monarch had taken his resolution 
once forever ; urgent necessity might, perhaps, have 
constrained him temporarily to suspend the execution of 
the penal statutes, but never, formally, to repeal them 
entirely, or even to modify them. In vain did Egmont 
represent to him that the public execution of the heretics 
daily augmented the number of their followers, while the 


courage and even joy with which they met their death filled 
the spectators with the deepest admiration, and awakened 
in them high opinions of a doctrine which could make 
such heroes of its disciples. This representation was not 
indeed lost upon the king, but it had a very different 
effect from what it was intended to produce. In order 
to prevent these seductive scenes, without, however, com- 
promising the severity of the edicts, he fell upon an 
expedient, and ordered that in future the executions 
should take place in private. The answer of the king on 
the subject of the embassy was given to the count in 
writing, and addressed to the regent. The king, when 
he granted him an audience to take leave, did not omit 
to call him to account for his behavior to Granvella, and 
alluded particularly to the livery invented in derision of 
the cardinal. Egmont protested that the whole affair 
had originated in a convivial joke, and nothing was 
further from their meaning than to derogate in the least 
from the respect that was due to royalty. " If he knew," 
he said, " that any individual among them had entertained 
such disloyal thoughts he himself would challenge him to 
answer for it with his life." 

At his departure the monarch made him a present of 
fifty thousand florins, and engaged, moreover, to furnish 
a portion for his daughter on her marriage. He also 
consigned to hip care the young Farnese of Parma, whom, 
to gratify the regent, his mother, he was sending to 
Brussels. The king's pretended mildness, and his profes- 
sions of regard for the Belgian nation, deceived the open- 
hearted Fleming. Happy in the idea of being the bearer 
of so much felicity to his native country, when in fact it 
was more remote than ever, he quitted Madrid satisfied 
beyond measure to think of the joy with which the prov- 
inces would welcome the message of their good king ; but 
the opening of the royal answer in the council of state at 
Brussels disappointed all these pleasing hopes. "Al- 
though in regard to the religious edicts," this was its 
tenor, "his resolve was firm and immovable, and he 
would rather lose a thousand lives than consent to alter 
a single letter of it, still, moved by the representations of 
Count Egmont, he was, on the other hand, equally deter- 


mined not to leave any gentle means untried to guard the 
people against the dekisions of heresy, and so to avert 
from them that punishment which must otherwise in- 
fallibly overtake them. As he had now learned from the 
count that the principal source of the existing errors in 
the faith was in the moral depravity of the clergy, the 
bad instruction and the neglected education of the young, 
he hereby empowered the regent to appoint a special 
commission of three bishops, and a convenient number 
of learned theologians, whose business it should be to 
consult about the necessary reforms, in order that the 
people might no longer be led astray through scandal, 
nor plunge into error through ignorance. As, moreover, 
he had been informed that the public executions of the 
heretics did but afford them an opportunity of boastfully 
displaying a foolhardy courage, and of deluding the 
common herd by an affectation of the glory of martyrdom, 
the commission was to devise means for putting in force 
the final sentence of the Inquisition with greater privacy, 
and thereby depriving condemned heretics of the honor 
of their obduracy." In order, however, to provide 
against the commission going beyond its prescribed limits 
Philip expressly required that the Bishop of Ypres, a man 
whom he could rely on as a determined zealot for the 
Romish faith, should be one of the body. Their delibera- 
ations were to be conducted, if possible, in secrecy, while 
the object publicly assigned to them should be the intro- 
duction of the Tridentine decrees. For this his motive 
seems to have been twofold ; on the one hand, not to 
alarm the court of Rome by the assembling of a private 
council ; nor, on the other, to afford any encouragement 
to the spirit of rebellion in the provinces. At its sessions 
the duchess was to preside, assisted by some of the more 
loyally disposed of her counsellors, and regularly transmit 
to Philip a w^ritten account of its transactions. To meet 
her most pressing w^ants he sent her a small supply in 
money. He also gave her hopes of a visit from himself ; 
first, however, it was necessary that the war with the Turks, 
who were then expected in hostile force before Malta, 
should be terminated. As to the proposed augmentation of 
the council of state, and its union with the privy council 
9— Schiller Vol. VII. 


and chamber of finance, it was passed over in perfect 
silence. The Duke of Arschot, however, who is already 
known to us as a zealous royalist, obtained a voice and 
seat in the latter. Viglius, indeed, was allowed to retire 
from the presidency of the privy council, but he was 
obliged, nevertheless, to continue to discharge its duties 
for four more years, because his successor, Carl Tyssenaque, 
of the council for Netherlandish affairs in Madrid, could 
not sooner be spared. 



Scarcely was Egmont returned when severer edicts 
against heretics, which, as it were, pursued him from 
Spain, contradicted the joyful tidings which he had 
brought of a happy change in the sentiments of the 
monarch. They were at the same time accompanied 
with a transcript of the decrees of Trent, as they were 
acknowledged in Spain, and were now to be proclaimed 
in the Netherlands also ; with it came likewise the death 
warrants of some Anabaptists and other kinds of heretics. 
" The count has been beguiled," William the Silent was 
now heard to say, " and deluded by Spanish cunning. 
Self-love and vanity have blinded his penetration; for his 
owm advantage he has forgotten the general w^elfare." 
The treachery of the Spanish ministry was now exposed, 
and this dishonest proceeding roused the indignation of 
the noblest in the land. But no one felt it more acutely 
than Count Egmont, who now perceived himself to have 
been the tool of Spanish duplicity, and to have become 
unwittingly the betrayer of his own country. " These 
specious favors then," he exclaimed, loudly and bitterly, 
" were nothing but an artifice to expose me to the ridicule 
of my fellow-citizens, and to destroy my good name. If 
this is the fashion after which the king purposes to keep 
the promises which he made to me in Spain, let who will 
take Flanders ; for my part, I will prove by my retire- 
ment from public business that I have no share in this 
breach of faith." In fact, the Spanish ministry could not 
have adopted a surer method of breaking the credit of so 


important a man than by exhibiting him to his fellow- 
citizens, who adored him, as one whom they had succeeded 
in deluding. 

Meanwhile the commission had been appointed, and had 
unanimously come to the following decision : " Whether 
for the moral reformation of the clergy, or for the relig= 
ious instruction of the people, or for the education of youth, 
such abundant provision had already been made in the 
decrees of Trent that nothing now was requisite but to 
put these decrees in force as speedily as possible. The 
imperial edicts against the heretics already ought on no 
account to be recalled or modified ; the courts of justice, 
however, might be secretly instructed to punish with 
death none but obstinate heretics or preachers, to make a 
difference between the different sects, and to show con- 
sideration to the age, rank, sex, or disposition of the 
accused. If it w^ere really the case that public executions 
did but inflame fanaticism, then, perhaps, the unheroic, 
less observed, but still equally severe punishment of the 
galleys, would be well-adapted to bring down all high 
notions of martyrdom. As to the delinquencies which 
might have arisen out of mere levity, curiosity, and 
thoughtlessness it would perhaps be sufficient to punish 
them by fines, exile, or even corporal chastisement." 

During these deliberations, which, moreover, it was re- 
quisite to submit to the king at Madrid, and to w^ait for the 
notification of his approval of them, the time passed away 
unprofitably, the proceedings against the sectaries being 
either suspended, or at least conducted very supinely. 
Since the recall of Granvella the disunion which prevailed 
in the higher councils, and from thence had extended to 
the provincial courts of justice, combined with the mild 
feelings generally of the nobles on the subject of religion, 
had raised the courage of the sects, and allowed free 
scope to the proselytizing mania of their apostles. The 
inquisitors, too, had fallen into contempt in consequence 
of the secular arm withdrawing its support, and in many 
places even openly taking their victims under its protec- 
tion. The Roman Catholic part of the nation had formed 
great expectations from the decrees of the synod of 
Trent, as well as from Egraont's embassy to Spaiu ; but 


in the latter case their hopes had scarcely been justified 
by the joyous tidings which the count had brought back, 
and, in the integrity of his heart, left nothing undone to 
make known as widely as possible. The more disused 
the nation had become to severity in matters pertaining 
to religion the more acutely was it likely to feel the 
sudden adoption of even still more rigorous measures. 
In this position of affairs the royal rescript arrived from 
Spain in answer to the proposition of the bishops and the 
last despatches of the regent. " Whatever interpretation 
(such was its tenor) Count Egmont may have given to 
the king's verbal communications, it had never in the 
remotest manner entered his mind to think of altering in 
the slightest degree the penal statutes which the Emperor, 
his father, had five-and-thirty years ago published in the 
provinces. These edicts he therefore commanded should 
henceforth be carried rigidly into effect, the Inquisition 
should receive the most active support from the secular 
arm, and the decrees of the council of Trent be irrevoca- 
bly and unconditionally acknowledged in all the provinces 
of his Netherlands. He acquiesced fully in the o2:>inion 
of the bishops and canonists as to the sufficiency of the 
Tridentine decrees as guides in all points of reformation 
of the clergy or instruction of the people ; but he could 
not concur with them as to the mitigation of punishment 
which they proposed in consideration either of the age, 
sex, or character of individuals, since he was of opinion 
that his edicts were in no degree wanting in moderation. 
To nothing but want of zeal and disloyalty on the part of 
judges could he ascribe the progress which heresy had 
already made in the country. In future, therefore, who- 
ever among them should be thus wanting in zeal must be 
removed from his office and make room for a more honest 
judge. The Inquisition ought to pursue its appointed 
path firmly, fearlessly, and dispassionately, without regard 
to or consideration of human feelinors, and was to look 
neither before nor behind. He would always be ready 
to approve of all its measures however extreme if it only 
avoided public scandal." 

This letter of the king, to which the Orange party have 
ascribed all the subsequent troubles of the Netherlands^ 


caused tlie most violent excitement amongst the state 
counsellors, and the expressions which in society they 
either accidentally or intentionally let fall from them with 
regard to it spread terror and alarm amongst the people. 
The dread of the Spanish Inquisition returned with new 
force, and with it came fresh apprehensions of the sub- 
version of their liberties. Already the people fancied 
they could hear prisons building, chains and fetters 
forging, and see piles of fagots collecting. Society was 
occupied with this one theme of conversation, and fear 
kept no longer within bounds. Placards were affixed to 
houses of the nobles in which they were called upon, as 
formerly Rome called on her Brutus, to come forward 
and save expiring freedom. Biting pasquinades w^ere 
published against the new bishops — tormentors as they 
were called ; the clergy were ridiculed in comedies, and 
abuse spared the throne as little as the Romish see. 

Terrified by the rumors which were afloat, the regent 
called together all the counsellors of state to consult them 
on the course she ought to adopt in this perilous crisis. 
Opinion varied and disputes were violent. Undecided 
between fear and duty they hesitated to come to a con- 
clusion, until at last the aged senator, Viglius, rose and 
surprised the whole assembly by his opinion. " It would," 
he said, " be the height of folly in us to think of promul- 
gating the royal edict at the present moment ; the king 
must be informed of the reception which, in all proba- 
bility, it will now meet. In the meantime the inquisitors 
must be enjoined to use their power with moderation, 
and to abstain from severity." But if these words of the 
aged president surprised the whole assembly, still greater 
was the astonishment when the Prince of Orange stood up 
and opposed his advice. " The royal will," he said, " is 
too clearly and too precisely stated ; it is the result of 
too long and too mature deliberation for us to venture to 
delay its execution without bringing on ourselves the 
reproach of the most culpable obstinacy." " That I take 
on myself," interrupted Viglius ; « I oppose myself to his 
displeasure. If by this delay we purchase for him the 
peace of the N'etherlands our opposition will eventually 
isecure for us the lasting gratitude of the king." The 


regent already began to incline to the advice of Viglius^ 
when the prince vehemently interposing, "What," he 
demanded, " what have the many representations which 
we have already made effected ? of what avail was the 
embassy we so lately despatched ? Nothing ! And what 
then do we wait for more ? Shall we, his state counsel- 
lors, bring upon ourselves the whole weight of his dis- 
pleasure by determining, at our own peril, to render him 
a service for which he will never thank us ?" Undecided 
and uncertain the whole assembly remained silent ; but 
no one had courage enough to assent to or reply to him. 
But the prince had appealed to the fears of the regent, 
and these left her no choice. The consequences of her 
unfortunate obedience to the king's command will soon 
appear. But, on the other hand, if by a wise disobedience 
she had avoided these fatal consequences, is it clear that 
the result would not have been the same ? However she 
had adopted the most fatal of the two counsels : happen 
what would the royal ordinance was to be promulgated. 
This time, therefore, faction prevailed, and the advice of 
the only true friend of the government, who, to serve his 
monarch, was ready to incur his displeasure, was disre- 
garded. With this session terminated the peace of the 
regent: from this day the Netherlands dated all the 
trouble which uninterruptedly visited their country. As 
the counsellors separated the Prince of Orange said to 
one who stood nearest to him, " Now will soon be acted 
a great tragedy." * 

* The conduct of the Prince of Orange in this meeting of the council has 
been appealed to bv historians of the Spanish party as a proof of Ins dis- 
honesty, and they have availed themselves over and over again to h acken 
his character. *' He," say they, *' who had, invariably up to this period both 
by word and deed, opposed the measures of the court so long as he had any 
ground to fear that the king's measures could be successfully carried out, 
supported them uoav for the first time when he was convinced that a scrupu- 
lous obedience to the roval orders would inevitably prejudice him. In order 
to convince the king of his folly in disregarding his warnings ; in order to be 
able to boast, ' this I foresaw,' and ' I foretold that,' he was willing to riek 
the welfare of his nation, for which alone he had liitherto professed to 
struggle. The whole tenor of his pre\ious conduct proved that ne neiu tne 
enforcement of the edicts to be an evil ; nevertheless, he at once becomes 
false to his own convictions and follows an opposite course ; althougii so lar 
as the nation was concerned, the same grounds existed as had dictated nis 
former measures ; and he changed his conduct simply that the result mignt 
be different to the king." " It is clear, therefore," continue his adversaries, 
" that the welfare of the nation had less weight with him than his animosity 
to his sovereign, in order to gratify his hatred to the latter he does not 


An edict, therefore, was issued to all the governors of 
provinces, commanding them rigorously to enforce the 
mandates of the Emperor against heretics, as well as those 
which had been passed under the present government, 
the decrees of the council of Trent, and those of the 
episcopal commission, which had lately sat to give all 
the aid of the civil force to the Inquisition, and also to 
enjoin a similar line of conduct on the officers of gov- 
ernment under them. More effectually to secure their 
object, every governor was to select from his own council 
an efficient officer who should frequently make the circuit 
of the province and institute strict inquiries into the 
obedience shown by the inferior officers to these com- 
mands, and then transmit quarterly to the capital an 
exact report of their visitation. A copy of the Tridentine 
decrees, according to the Spanish original, was also sent 
to the archbishops and bishops, with an intimation that 
in case of their needing the assistance of the secular 
power, the governors of their diocese, with iheir troops, 
were placed at their disposal. Against these decrees no 
privilege was to avail; however, the king willed and 
commanded that the particular territorial rights of the 
provinces and towns should in no case be infringed. 

These commands, which were publicly read in every 
town by a herald, produced an effect on the people 
which in the fullest manner verified the fears of the 
President Viglius and the hopes of the Prince of Orange. 

hesitate to sacrifice the former." But is it then true that by caHing for the 
promulgation of these edicts he sacrificed the nation? or, to speak more 
correctly, did he carry the edicts into effect by insisting on their promulga- 
tion ? Can it not, on the contrary, be shown with far more probability that 
this was really the only way effectually to frustrate them ? The nation was 
in a ferment, and the indignant people would (there was reason to expect, 
and as Viglius himself seems to have apprehended) show so decided a spirit 
of opposition as must compel the king to yield. " Now," says Orange, " my 
country feels all the impulse necessary for it to contend successfully with 
tyranny ! If I neglect the present moment the tyrant will, by secret nego- 
tiation and intrigue, find means to obtain by stealth what by open force he 
could not. The same object will be steadily pursued, only with greater 
caution and forbearance ; but extremity alone can combine the people to 
unity of purpose, and move them to bold measures." It is clear, therefore, 
that with regard to the king the prince did but change his language only ; 
but that as far as the people was concerned his conduct was perfectlT con- 
sistent. And what duties did he owe the king apart from those he owed the 
republic ? Was he to oppose an arbitary act in the very moment when it was 
about to entail a just retribution on its author ? Would he have done his 
duty to his country if he had deterred its oppressor from a precipitate step 
which alone could save it from its otherwise unavoidable misery ? 


Nearly all the governors of provinces refused compliance 
with them, and threatened to throw up their appoint- 
ments if the attempt should be made to compel their 
obedience. " The ordinance," they wrote back, " w^as 
based on a statement of the numbers of the sectaries, 
which was altogether false.* Justice was appalled at the 
prodigious crowd of victims which daily accumulated 
under its hands ; to destroy by the flames fifty thousand 
or sixty thousand persons from their districts was no 
commission for them." The inferior clergy too, in par- 
ticular, were loud in their outcries against the decrees of 
Trent, which cruelly assailed their ignorance and corrup- 
tion, and which moreover threatened them with a re- 
form they so much detested. Sacrificing, therefore, the 
highest interests of their church to their own private 
advantage, they bitterly reviled the decrees and the 
whole council, and with liberal hand scattered the seeds 
of revolt in the minds of the people. The same outcry 
was now revived which the monks had formerly raised 
against the new bishops. The Archbishop of Cambray 
succeeded at last, but not without great opposition, in 
causing the decrees to be proclaimed. It cost more labor 
to effect this in Malines and Utrect, where the arch- 
bishops were at strife with their clergy, who, as they 
were accused, preferred to involve the whole church in 
ruin rather than submit to a reformation of morals. 

Of all the provinces Brabant raised its voice the loud- 
est. The states of this province appealed to their great 
privilege, which protected their members from being 
brought before a foreign court of justice. They spoke 
loudly of the oath by which the king had bound himself 
to observe all their statutes, and of the conditions under 
which they alone had sworn allegiance to him. Louvain, 
Antwerp, Brussels, and Herzogenbusch solemnly pro- 

* The number of the heretics was very unequally computed by the two 
parties, according as the interests and passions of either made its increase or 
diminution desirable, and the same party often contradicted itself when its 
interest changed. If the question related to new measures of oppression, to 
the introduction of the inquisitional tribunals, etc., the numbers of the 
¥*rotestants were countless and interminable. If, on the other hand, the 
question was of lenity towards them, of ordinances to their advantage, they 
were now reduced to such an insignificant number that it would not repay 
the trouble of making an innovation for this small body of ill-minded 


tested against the decrees, and transmitted their protests 
in distinct memorials to the regent. The latter, always 
hesitating and wavering, too timid to obey the king, and 
far more afraid to disobey him, again summoned her 
council, again listened to the arguments for and against 
the question, and at last again gave her assent to the 
opinion which of all others was the most perilous for her 
to adopt. A new reference to the king in Spain was pro- 
posed ; the next moment it was asserted that so urgent: a 
crisis did not admit of so dilatory a remedy; it was 
necessary for the regent to act on her own responsibility, 
and either defy the threatening aspect of despair, or to 
yield to it by modifying or retracting the royal ordi- 
nance. She finally caused the annals of Brabant to be 
examined in order to discover if possible a precedent for 
the present case in the instructions of the first inquisitor 
whom Charles Y. had appointed to the province. These 
instructions indeed did not exactly correspond with those 
now given ; but had not the king declared that he intro- 
duced no innovation ? This was precedent enough, and 
it was declared that the new edicts must also be inter- 
preted in accordance with the old and existing statutes 
of the province. This explanation gave indeed no satis- 
faction to the states of Brabant, who had loudly demanded 
the entire abolition of the inquisition, but it was an 
encouragement to the other provinces to make similar 
protests and an equally bold opposition. Without giving 
the duchess time to decide upon their remonstrances they, 
on their own authority, ceased to obey the inquisition, 
and withdrew their aid from it. The inquisitors, who had 
so recently been expressly urged to a more rigid execu- 
tion of their duties now saw themselves suddenly deserted 
by the secular arm, and robbed of all authority, while in 
answer to their application for assistance the court could 
give them only empty promises. The regent by thus 
endeavoring to satisfy all parties had displeased all. 

During these negotiations between the court, the coun- 
cils, and the states a universal spirit of revolt pervaded 
the whole nation. Men began to investigate the rights 
of the subject, and to scrutinize the prerogative of kings. 
^'The Netherlanders were not so stupid," many were 


heard to say with very little attempt at secrecy, " as not 
to know right well what was due from the subject to the 
sovereign, and from the king to the subject; and that 
perhaps means would yet be found to repel force with 
force, although at present there might be no appearance 
of it." In Antwerp a placard was set up in several 
places calling upon the town council to accuse the King 
of Spain before the supreme court at Spires of having 
broken his oath and violated the liberties of the country, 
for, Brabant being a portion of the Burgundian circle, 
was included in the religious peace of Passau and Augs- 
burg. About this time too the Calvinists published their 
confession of faith, and in a preamble addressed to the 
king, declared that they, although a hundred thousand 
strong, kept themselves nevertheless quiet, and like the 
rest of his subjects, contributed to all the taxes of the 
country; from which it was evident, they added, that of 
themselves they entertained no ideas of insurrection. 
Bold and incendiary writings were publicly disseminated, 
which depicted the Spanish tyranny in the most odious 
colors, and reminded the nation of its privileges, and 
occasionally also of its powers.* 

The warlike preparations of Philip against the Porte, 
as well as those which, for no intelligible reason, Eric, 
Duke of Brunswick, about this time made in the vicinity, 
contributed to strengthen the general suspicion that the 
Inquisition was to be forcibly imj^osed on the Netherlands. 
Many of the most eminent merchants already spoke of 
quitting their houses and business to seek in some other 
part of the world the liberty of which they were here 
deprived ; others looked about for a leader, and let fall 
hints of forcible resistance and of foreign aid. 

That in this distressing position of affairs the regent 
might be left entirely without an adviser and without 
support, she was now deserted by the only person who 

* The regent mentioned to the king a number (three thousand) of these 
writings. Strada 117. It is i-emarkable how important a part printing, and 
publicity in general, played in the rebellion of the Netherlands. Through 
this organ one restless spirit spoke to millions. Besides the lampoons, which 
for the most part were composed' with all the low scurrility and brutality 
Avhich was the distinguishing character of most of the Protestant polemical 
Avritings of the time, Avo)-k8 were occasionally published which defended 
religious liberty in the fullest sense of the word. 


was at the present moment indispensable to her, and 
who had contributed to plunge her into this embarrass- 
ment. " Without kindling a civil war," wrote to her 
William of Orange, " it was absolutely impossible to com- 
ply now with the orders of the king. If, however, obe- 
dience was to be insisted upon, he must beg that his 
place might be supplied by another who would better 
answer the expectations of his majesty, and have more 
power than he had over the minds of the nation. The 
zeal which on every other occasion he had shown in the 
service of the crown, would, he hoped, secure his pres- 
ent proceeding from misconstruction; for, as the case 
now stood, he had no alternative between disobeying the 
king and injuring his country and himself." From this 
time forth William of Orange retired from the council 
of state to his town of Breda, where in observant but 
scarcely inactive repose he watched the course of affairs. 
Count Horn followed his example. Egmont, ever vacil- 
lating between the republic and the throne, ever wearying 
himself in the vain attempt to unite the good citizen with 
the obedient subject — Egmont, who was less able than 
the rest to dispense with the favor of the monarch, and 
to whom, therefore, it was less an object of indifference, 
could not bring himself to abandon the bright prospects 
which were now opening for him at the court of the 
regent. The Prince of Orange had, by his superior 
intellect, gained an influence over the regent which great 
minds cannot fail to command from inferior spirits. His 
retirement had opened a void in her confidence which 
Count Egmont was now to fill by virtue of that sympathy 
which so naturally subsists between timidity, weakness, 
and good-nature. As she was as much afraid of exasper- 
ating the people by an exclusive confidence in the ad- 
herents to the crown, as she w^as fearful of displeasing the 
king by too close an understanding with the declared 
leaders of the faction, a better object for her confidence 
could now hardly be presented than this very Count Eg- 
mont, of whom it could not be said that he belonged, to 
either of the two conflicting parties. 




1565. Up to this point the general peace had it appears 
been the sincere wish of the Prince of Orange, the Counts 
Egmont and Horn, and their friends. They had pursued 
the true interests of their sovereign as much as the general 
weal ; at least their exertions and their actions had been 
as little at variance with the former as with the latter. 
Nothing had as yet occurred to make their motives sus- 
pected, or to manifest in them a rebellious spirit. What 
they had done they had done in discharge of their bounden 
duty as members of a free state, as the representatives of 
the nation, as -advisers of the king, as men of integrity 
and honor. The only weapons they had used to oppose 
the encroachments of the court had been remonstrances, 
modest complaints, petitions. They had never allowed 
themselves to be so far carried away by a just zeal for 
their good cause as to transgress the limits of prudence 
and moderation which on many occasions are so easily 
overstepped by party spirit. But all the nobles of the 
republic did not now listen to the voice of that prudence ; 
all did not abide within the bounds of moderation. 

While in the council of state the great question was 
discussed whether the nation was to be miserable or not, 
while its sworn deputies summoned to their assistance all 
the arguments of reason and of equity, and while the 
middle-classes and the people contented themselves with 
empty complaints, menaces, and curses, that part of the 
nation which of all seemed least called upon, and on whose 
support least reliance had been placed, began to take 
more active measures. We have already described a 
class of the nobility whose services and wants Philip at 
his accession had not considered it necessary to remember. 
Of these by far the greater number had asked for pro- 
motion from a much more urgent reason than a love of 
the mere honor. Many of them were deeply sunk in debt, 
from which by their own resources they could not hope 
to emancipate themselves. When then, in filling up 


appointments, Philip passed them over he wounded them 
in a point far more sensitive than their pride. In these 
suitors he had by his neglect raised up so many idle spies 
and merciless judges of his actions, so many collectors 
and propagators of malicious rumor. As their pride did 
not quit them with their prosperity, so now, driven by 
necessity, they trafficked with the sole capital which they 
could not alienate — their nobility and the political 
influence of their names ; and brought into circulation a 
coin which only in such a period could have found cur- 
rency — their protection. With a self -pride to which they 
gave the more scope as it was all they could now call 
their own, they looked upon themselves as a strong inter- 
mediate power between the sovereign and the citizen, and 
believed themselves called upon to hasten to the rescue 
of the oppressed state, which looked imploringly to them 
for succor. This idea was ludicrous only so far as their 
self-conceit was concerned in it ; the advantages which 
they contrived to draw from it were substantial enough. 
The Protestant merchants, who held in their hands the 
chief part of the wealth of the Netherlands, and who 
believed they could not at any price purchase too dearly 
the undisturbed exercise of their religion, did not fail to 
make use of this class of people who stood idle in the 
market and ready to be hired. These very men whom 
at any other time the merchants, in the pride of riches, 
would most probably have looked down upon, now 
appeared likely to do them good service through their 
numbers, their courage, their credit with the populace, 
their enmity to the government, nay, through their. beg- 
garly pride itself and their despair. On these grounds 
they zealously endeavored to form a close union with 
them, and diligently fostered the disposition for rebellion, 
while they also used every means to keep alive their high 
opinions of themselves, and, what was most important, 
lured their poverty by well-applied pecuniary assistance 
and glittering promises. Few of them were so utterly 
insignificant as not to possess some influence, if not per- 
sonally, yet at least by their relationship with higher and 
more powerful nobles ; and if united they would be able 
to raise a formidable voice against the crown. Many of 


tlicm had either ah-eady joined the new sect or were 
secretly inclined to it ; and even those who were zealous 
Roman Catholics had j^olitical or private grounds enough 
to set them against the decrees of Trent and the Inquisi- 
tion. All, in fine, felt the call of vanity sufficiently 
powerful not to allow the only moment to escape them 
in which they might possibly make some figure in the 

But much as might be expected from the co-operation 
of these men in a body it would have been futile and 
ridiculous to build any hopes on any one of them singly ; 
and the great difficulty was to effect a union among them. 
Even to bring them together some unusual occurrence 
was necessary, and fortunately such an incident presented 
itself. The nuptials of Baron Montigny, one of the 
Belgian nobles, as also those of the Prince Alexander 
of Parma, which took place about this time in Brussels, 
assembled in that town a great number of the Belgian 
nobles. On this occasion relations met relations; new 
friendships were formed and old renewed ; and while 
the distress of the country was the topic of conversation 
wine and mirth unlocked lips and hearts, hints were 
dropped of union among themselves, and of an alliance 
with foreign powers. These accidental meetings soon 
led to concealed ones, and public discussions gave rise to 
secret consultations. Two German barons, moreover, a 
Count of Holle and a Count of Schwarzenberg, who at 
this time were on a visit to the Netherlands, omitted 
nothing to awaken expectations of assistance from their 
neighbors. Count Louis of Nassau, too, had also a short 
time before visited several German courts to ascertain 
their sentiments.* It has even been asserted that secret 
emissaries of the Admiral Coligny were seen at this 
time in Brabant, but this, however, may be reasonably 

If ever a political crisis was favorable to an attempt at 
revolution it was the present. A woman at the helm of 

* It was not without cause that the Prince of Orange sxiddenly disappeared 
from Brussels in order to be present at the election of a king of Rome in 
Frankfort. An assembly of so many German princes must have greatly 
favored a negotiation. 


government ; the governors of provinces disaffected tlieni- 
selves and disposed to wink at insubordination in others ; 
most of the state counsellors quite inefficient ; no army 
to fall back upon ; the few troops there were long since 
discontented on account of the outstanding arrears of pay, 
and already too often deceived by false promises to be 
enticed by new ; commanded, moreover, by officers who 
despised the Inquisition from their hearts, and would 
have blushed to draw a sword in its behalf ; and, lastly, 
no money in the treasury to enlist new troops or to hire 
foreigners. The court at Brussels, as well as the three 
councils, not only divided by internal dissensions, but in 
the highest degree venal and corrupt ; the regent without 
full powers to act on the spot, and the king at a distance ; 
his adherents in the provinces few, uncertain, and dis- 
pirited ; the faction numerous and pow^erful ; two-thirds 
of the people irritated against popery and desirous of a 
change — such was the unfortunate weakness of the 
government, and the more unfortunate still that this 
weakness was so well known to its enemies! 

In order to unite so many minds in the prosecution of 
a common object a leader was still wanting, and a few 
influential names to give political weight to their enter- 
prise. The two were supplied by Count Louis of Nassau 
and Henry Count Brederode, both members of the most 
illustrious houses of the Belgian nobility, who voluntarily 
placed themselves at the head of the undertaking. Louis 
of Nassau, brother of the Prince of Orange, united many 
splendid qualities which made him worthy of appearing 
on so noble and important a stage. In Geneva, where 
he studied, he had imbibed at once a hatred to the hier- 
archy and a love to the new religion, and on his return to 
his native country had not failed to enlist proselytes to 
his opinions. The republican bias which his mind had 
received in that school kindled in him a bitter hatred of 
the Spanish name, which animated his whole conduct 
and only left him with his latest breath. Popery and 
Spanish rule were in his mind identical — as indeed they 
were in reality — and the abhorrence which he entertained 
for the one helped to strengthen his dislike for the other. 
Closely as the brothers agreed in their inclinations and 


aversions the ways by whicli each sought to gratify them 
were widely dissimilar. Youth and an ardent tempera- 
ment did not allow the younger brother to follow the 
tortuous course through which the elder wound himseli 
to his object. A cold, calm circumspection carried the 
latter slowly but surely to his aim, and with a pliable 
subtilty he made all things subserve his purpose ; with a 
foolhardy impetuosity which overthrew all obstacles, the 
other at times compelled success, but oftener accelerated 
disaster. For this reason William was a general and 
Louis never more than an adventurer ; a sure and power- 
ful arm if only it were directed by a wise head. Louis' 
pledge once given was good forever; his alliances sur- 
vived every vicissitude, for they were mostly formed in 
the pressing moment of necessity, and misfortune binds 
more firmly than thoughtless joy. He loved his brother 
as dearly as he did his cause, and for the latter he died. 

Henry of Brederode, Baron of Viane and Burgrave of 
Utrecht, was descended from the old Dutch counts who 
formerly ruled that province as sovereign princes. So 
ancient a title endeared him to the people, among whom 
the memory of their former lords still survived, and was 
the more treasured the less they felt they had gained by 
the change. This hereditary splendor increased the self- 
conceit of a man upon whose tongue the glory of his 
ancestors continually hung, and who dwelt the more on 
former greatness, even amidst its ruins, the more unprom- 
ising the aspect of his own condition became. Excluded 
from the honors and employments to which, in his opin- 
ion, his own merits and his noble ancestry fully entitled 
him (a squadron of light cavalry being all which was 
entrusted to him), he hated the government, and did not 
scruple boldly to canvass and to rail at its measures. 
By these means he won the hearts of the people. He 
also favored in secret the evangelical belief; less, how- 
ever, as a conviction of his better reason than as an oppo- 
sition to the government. With more loquacity than 
eloquence, and more audacity than courage, he was 
brave rather from not believing in danger than from 
being superior to it. Louis of Nassau burned for the 
cause which he defended, Brederode for the glory of 


being its defender ; the former was satisfied in acting lor 
his party, the latter discontented if he did not stand at 
its head. No one was more fit to lead off the dance in a 
rebellion, but it could hardly have a worse ballet-master. 
Contemptible as his threatened designs really were, the 
illusion of the multitude might have imparted to them 
weight and terror if it had occurred to them to set up a 
pretender in his person. His claim to the possessions of 
his ancestors was an empty name; but even a name 
was now sufficient for the general disaffection to rally 
round. A pamphlet which was at the time disseminated 
amongst the people openly called him the heir of Hol- 
land; and his engraved portrait, which was publicly 
exhibited, bore the boastful inscription : — 

Sum Brederodns ego, Batavss non infima gentis 
Gloria, virtutem non unica pagina claudit. 

(1565.) Besides these two, there were others also 
from among the most illustrious of the Flemish nobles : 
the young Count Charles of Mansfeld, a son of that 
nobleman whom we have found among the most zealous 
royalists ; the Count Kinlemburg ; two Counts of Bergen 
and of Battenburg; John of Marnix, Baron of Tou- 
louse ; Philip of Marnix, Baron of St. Aldegonde ; with 
several others who joined the league, which, about the 
middle of November, in the year 1565, was formed at the 
house of Von Hammes, king at arms of the Golden 
Fleece. Here it was that six men decided the destiny 
of their country (as formerly a few confederates consum- 
mated the liberty of Switzerland), kindled the torch of a 
forty years' war, and laid the basis of a freedom which 
they themselves were never to enjoy. The objects of 
the league were set forth in the following declaration, to 
which Philip of Marnix was the first to subscribe his 
name: "Whereas certain ill-disposed persons, under the 
mask of a pious zeal, but in reality under the impulse of 
avarice and ambition, have by their evil counsels per- 
suaded our most gracious sovereign the king to introduce 
into these countries the abominable tribunal of the Inqui- 
sition, a tribunal diametrically opposed to all laws, human 
and divine, and in cruelty far surpassing the barbarous 
10— Schiller Yol. Ylf. 


institutions of lieathenism ; which raises the inquisitors 
above every other power, and debases man to a perpetual 
bondage, and by its snares exposes the honest citizen to 
a constant fear of death, inasmuch as any one (priest, it 
may be, or a faithless friend, a Spaniard or a reprobate), 
has it in his power at any moment to cause whom he will 
to be dragged before that tribunal, to be placed in con- 
finement, condemned, and executed without the accused 
ever being allowed to face his accuser, or to adduce 
proof of his innocence; w^e, therefore, the undersigned, 
have bound ourselves to watch over the safety of our 
families, our estates, and our own j^ersons. To this we 
hereby pledge ourselves, and to this end bind ourselves 
as a sacred fraternity, and vow with a solemn oath to 
oppose to the best of our power the introduction of this 
tribunal into these countries, whether it be attempted 
openly or secretly, and under whatever name it may be 
disguised. We at the same time declare that we are far 
from intending anything unlawful against the king our 
sovereign ; rather is it our unalterable purpose to support 
and defend the royal prerogative, and to maintain peace, 
and, as far as lies in our power, to put down all rebellion. 
In accordance with this purpose we have sworn, and now 
again swear, to hold sacred the government, and to 
respect it both in word and deed, which witness Almighty 

" Further, we vow and swear to protect and defend 
one another, in all times and places, against all attacks 
whatsoever touching the articles which are set forth in 
this covenant. We hereby bind ourselves that no accu- 
sation of any of our followers, in whatever name it may 
be clothed, wiiether rebellion, sedition, or otherwise, 
shall avail to annul our oath towards the accused, or 
absolve us from our obligation towards him. No act 
which is directed against tlie Inquisition can deserve the 
name of a rebellion. Whoever, therefore, shall be placed 
in arrest on any such charge, we here pledge ourselves to 
assist him to the utmost of our ability, and to endeavor 
by every allowable means to effect his liberation. In 
this, however, as in all matters, but especially in the con- 
duct of all measures against the tribunal of the Inquisi- 


tion, we submit ourselves to tlie general regulations of 
the league, or to the decision of those whom we may 
unanimously appoint our counsellors and leaders. 

"In witness hereof, and in confirmation of this our 
common league and covenant, we call upon the holy name 
of the living God, maker of heaven and earth, and of all 
that are therein, who searches the hearts, the consciences, 
and the thoughts, and knows the purity of ours. We 
implore the aid of the Holy Spirit, that success and 
honor may crown our undertaking, to the glory of His 
name, and to the peace and blessing of our country ! " 

This covenant was immediately translated into several 
languages, and quickly disseminated through the prov- 
inces. To swell the league as speedily as possible each 
of the confederates assembled all his friends, relations, 
adherents, and retainers. Great banquets were held, 
which lasted whole days — irresistible temptations for a 
sensual, luxurious people, in whom the deepest wretched- 
ness could not stifle the propensity for voluptuous living. 
Whoever repaired to these banquets — and every one 
was welcome — was plied with officious assurances of 
friendship, and, when heated with wine, carried away 
by the example of numbers, and overcome by the fire of 
a wild eloquence. The hands of many were guided 
while they subscribed their signatures ; the hesitating 
were derided, the pusillanimous threatened, the scruples 
of loyalty clamored down; some even were quite igno- 
rant what they were signing, and were ashamed after- 
wards to inquire. To many whom mere levity brought 
to the entertainment the general entliusiasm left no 
choice, while the splendor of the confederacy allured the 
mean, and its numbers encouraged the timorous. The 
abettors of the league had not scrupled at the artifice of 
counterfeiting the signature and seals of the Prince of 
Orange, Counts Egmont, Horn, Megen, and others, a 
trick which won them hundreds of adherents. This was 
done especially with a view of influencing the officers of 
the army, in order to be safe in this quarter, if matters 
should come at last to violence. The device succeeded 
with many, especially with subalterns, and Count Brede- 
rode even drew his sword upon an ensign who wished 


time for consideration. Men of all classes and condi- 
tions signed it. Religion made no difference. Roman 
Catholic priests even were associates of the league. The 
motives were not the same with all, but the pretext was 
similar. The Roman Catholics desired simply the aboli- 
tion of the Inquisition, and a mitigation of the edicts; 
the Protestants aimed at unlimited freedom of con- 
science. A few daring spirits only entertained so bold a 
project as the overthrow of the present government, 
while the needy and indigent based the vilest hopes on a 
general anarchy. A farewell entertainment, which about 
this time was given to the Counts Schwarzenberg and 
Holle in Breda, and another shortly afterwards in Hog- 
straten, drew many of the principal nobility to these two 
places, and of these several had already signed the cov- 
enant. The Prince of Orange, Counts Egmont, Horn, 
and Megen were present at the latter banquet, but with- 
out any concert or design, and without having themselves 
any share in the league, although one of Egmont's own 
secretaries and some of the servants of the other three 
noblemen had openly joined it. At this entertainment 
three hundred persons gave in their adhesion to the cov- 
enant, and the question was mooted whether the whole 
body should present themselves before the regent armed 
or unarmed, with a declaration or with a petition? 
Horn and Orange (Egmont would not countenance the 
business in any way) were called in as arbiters upon this 
point, and they decided in favor of the more moderate 
and submissive procedure. By taking this office upon 
them they exposed themselves to the charge of having in 
no very covert manner lent their sanction to the enter- 
prise of the confederates. In compliance, therefore, with 
their advice, it was determined to present their address 
unarmed, and in the form of a petition, and a day was 
appointed on which they should assemble in Brussels. 

The first intimation the regent received of this con- 
spiracy of the nobles was given by the Count of Megen 
soon after his return to the capital. " There was," he 
said, " an enterprise on foot ; no less than three hundred 
of the nobles were implicated in it ; it referred to relig- 
ion ; the members of it had bound themselves together 


by an oath ; they reckoned much on foreign aid ; she would 
soon know more about it." Though urgently pressed, he 
would give her no further information. " A nobleman," 
he said, " had confided it to him under the seal of secrecy, 
and he had pledged his word of honor to him." What 
really withheld him from giving her any further explana- 
tion was, in all probability, not so much any delicacy 
about his honor, as his hatred of the Inquisition, which he 
would not willingly do anything to advance. Soon after 
him. Count Egmont delivered to the regent a copy of the 
covenant, and also gave her the names of the conspirators, 
with some few exceptions. Nearly about the same time 
the Prince of Orange wrote to her : " There was, as he 
had heard, an army enlisted, four hundred officers were 
already named, and twenty thousand men would presently 
appear in arms." Thus the rumor was intentionally ex- 
aggerated, and the danger was multiplied in every 

The regent, petrified with alarm at the first announce- 
ment of these tidings, and guided solely by her fears, 
hastily called together all the members of the council of 
state who happened to be then in Brussels, and at the 
same time sent a pressing summons to the Prince of 
Orange and Count Horn, inviting them to resume their 
seats in the senate. Before the latter could arrive she 
consulted with Egmont, Megen, and Barlaimont what 
course was to be adopted in the present dangerous posture 
of affairs. The question debated was whether it would 
be better to have recourse to arms or to yield to the 
emergency and grant the demands of the confederates; 
or whether they should be put off with promises, and an 
appearance of compliance, in order to gain time for pro- 
curing instructions from Spain, and obtaining money and 
troops? For the first plan the requisite supplies were 
wanting, and, what was equally requisite, confidence in 
the army, of which there seemed reason to doubt whether 
it had not been already gained by the conspirators. The 
second expedient would it was quite clear never be sanc- 
tioned by the king ; besides it would serve rather to raise 
than depress the courage of the confederates ; while, on 
the other hand, a compliance with their reasonable de- 


mands and a ready unconditional pardon of the past 
would in all probability stifle the rebellion in the cradle. 
The last opinion was supported by Megen and Egmont 
but opposed by Barlaimont. " Rumor," said the latter, 
"had exaggerated the matter; it is impossible that so 
formidable an armament could have been prepared so 
secretly and so rapidly. It was but a band of a few 
outcasts and desperadoes, instigated by two or three en- 
thusiasts, nothing more. All will be quiet after a few 
heads have been struck off." The regent determined to 
await the opinion of the council of state, which was 
shortly to assemble ; in the meanwhile, however, she was 
not inactive. The fortifications in the most important 
places were inspected and the necessary repairs speedily 
executed; her ambassadors at foreign courts received 
orders to redouble their vigilance ; expresses were sent 
off to Spain. At the same time she caused the report to 
be revived of the near advent of the king, and in her 
external deportment put on a show of that imperturbable 
firmness which awaits attack without intending easily to 
yield to it. At the end of March (four whole months 
consequently from the framing of the covenant), the 
whole state council assembled in Brussels. There were 
present the Prince of Orange, the Duke of Arschot, 
Counts Egmont, Bergen, Megen, Aremberg, Horn, Hog- 
straten, Barlaimont, and others; the Barons Montigny 
and Hachicourt, all the knights of the Golden Fleece, with 
the President Viglius, State Counsellor Bruxelles, and 
the other assessors of the privy council. Several letters 
were produced which gave a clearer insight into the 
nature and objects of the conspiracy. The extremity to 
which the regent was reduced gave the disaffected a 
power which on the present occasion they did not neglect 
to use. Venting their long suppressed indignation, they 
indulged in bitter complaints against the court and 
against the government. " But lately," said the Prince of 
Orange, "the king sent forty thousand gold florins to the 
Queen of Scotland to support her in her undertakings 
against England, and he allows his I^etherlands to he 
burdened with debt. Not to mention the unseasonable- 
2iess of this subsidy and its fruitless expenditure, why 


should he bring upon us the resentment of a queen, who 
is both so important to us as a friend and as an enemy so 
much to be dreaded ? " The prince did not even refrai\i 
on the present occasion from glancing at the concealed 
hatred which the king was suspected of cherishing against 
the family of Nassau and against him in particular. "It 
is well known," he said, " that he has plotted with the 
hereditary enemies of my house to take away my life, and 
that he waits with impatience only for a suitable oppor- 
tunity." His example opened the lips of Count Horn also, 
and of many others besides, who with passionate ve- 
hemence descanted on their own merits and the ingrati- 
tude of the king. With difficulty did the regent succeed 
in silencing the tumult and in recalling attention to the 
proper subject of the debate. The question was whether 
the confederates, of whom it was now known that they 
intended to appear at court with a petition, should be 
admitted or not ? The Duke of Arschot, Counts Arem- 
berg, Megen, and Barlaimont gave their negative to tlie 
proposition. "What need of five hundred persons," said 
the latter, " to deliver a small memorial ? This paradox 
of humility and defiance implies no good. Let them send 
to us one respectable man from among their number 
without pomp, without assumption, and so submit their 
application to us. Otherwise, shut the gates upon them, 
or if some insist on their admission let them be closely 
watched, and let the first act of insolence which any one 
of them shall be guilty of be punished with death." In 
this advice concurred Count Mansfeld, whose own son 
was among the conspirators ; he had even threatened to 
disinherit his son if he did not quickly abandon the 

Counts Megen, also, and Aremberg hesitated to receive 
the petition ; the Prince of Orange, however. Counts Eg= 
mont, Horn, Hogstraten, and others voted emphatically 
for it. " The confederates," they declared, " were known 
to them as men of integrity and honor ; a great part of 
them were connected with themselves by friendship and 
relationship, and they dared vouch for their behavior. 
Every subject was allowed to petition ; a right which was 
enjoyed by the meanest individual in the state could no 


without injustice be denied to so respectable a body of 
men." It was therefore resolved by a majority of votes 
to admit the confederates on the condition that they 
should appear unarmed and conduct themselves temper- 
ately. The squabbles of the members of council had 
occupied the greater part of the sitting, so that it was 
necessary to adjourn the discussion to the following day. 
In order that the principal matter in debate might not 
again be lost sight of in useless complaints the regent at 
once hastened to the point: "Brederode, we are in- 
formed," she said, " is coming to us, with an address in 
the name of the league, demanding the abolition of the 
Inquisition and a mitigation of the edicts. The advice of 
my senate is to guide me in my answer to him ; but before 
you give your opinions on this point permit me to premise 
a few words. I am told that there are many even amongst 
yourselves who load the religious edicts of the Emperor, 
my father, with open reproaches, and describe them to the 
people as inhuman and barbarous. Now I ask you, lords 
and gentlemen, knights of the Fleece, counsellors of his 
majesty and of the state, whether you did not yourselves 
vote for these edicts, whether the states of the realm have 
not recognized them as lawful ? Why is that now blamed, 
which was formerly declared right ? Is it because they 
have now become even more necessary than they then 
were ? Since when is the Inquisition a new thing in the 
Netherlands? Is it not full sixteen years ago since the 
Emperor established it ? And wherein is it more cruel 
than the edicts ? If it be allowed that the latter were the 
work of wisdom, if the universal consent of the states has 
sanctioned them — why this opposition to the former, 
which is nevertheless far more humane than the edicts, if 
they are to be observed to the letter ? Speak now freely ; 
I am not desirous of fettering your decision ; but it is 
your business to see that it is not misled by passion and 
prejudice." The council of state was again, as it always 
had been, divided between two opinions ; but the few who 
spoke for the Inquisition and the literal execution of the 
edicts were outvoted by the opposite party with the 
Prince of Orange at its head. " Would to heaven," he 
\>egan, " that my representations had been then thought 


worthy of attention, when as yet the grounds of appre- 
hension were remote; things would in that case never 
have been carried so far as to make recourse to extreme 
measures indispensable, nor would men have been plunged 
deeper in error by the very means which were intended 
to beguile them from their delusion. We are all unani- 
mous on the one main point. We all wish to see the 
Catholic religion safe ; if this end can be secured without 
the aid of the Inquisition, it is well, and we offer our 
wealth and our blood to its service ; but on this very point 
it is that our opinions are divided. 

" There are two kinds of inquisition : the see of Rome 
lays claim to one, the other has, from time immemorial, 
been exercised by the bishops. The force of prejudice 
and of custom has made the latter light and supportable 
to us. It will find little opposition in the Netherlands, 
and the augmented numbers of the bishops will make it 
effective. To what purpose then insist on the former, 
the mere name of which is revolting to all the feelings of 
our minds? When so many nations exist without it 
why should it be imposed on us ? Before Luther appeared 
it was never heard of ; but the troubles with Luther 
happened at a time when there was an inadequate number 
of spiritual overseers, and when the few bishops were, 
moreover, indolent, and the licentiousness of the clergy ex- 
cluded them from the office of j udges. Now all is changed ; 
we now count as many bishops as there are provinces. 
Why should not the policy of the government adjust 
itself to the altered circumstances of the times ? We 
want leniency, not severity. The repugnance of the 
people is manifest — this we must seek to appease if we 
would not have it burst out into rebellion. With the 
death of Pius IV. the full powers of the inquisitors have 
expired ; the new pope has as yet sent no ratification of 
their authority, without which no one formerly ventured 
to exercise his office. Now, therefore, is the time when 
it can be suspended without infringing the rights of any 

" What I have stated with regard to the Inquisition 
holds equally good in respect to the edicts also. The 
exigency of the times called them forth, but are not 


those times passed? So long an experience of tliem 
ought at last to have taught us that against hersey no 
means are less successful than the fagot and sword. 
What incredible progress has not the new religion made 
during only the last few years in the provinces ; and if 
we investigate the cause of this increase we shall find it 
principally in the glorious constancy of those who have 
fallen sacrifices to the truth of their opinions. Carried 
away by sympathy and admiration, men begin to weigh 
in silence whether what is maintained with such invin- 
cible courage may not really be the truth. In France 
and in England the same severities may have been 
inflicted on the Protestants, but have they been attended 
with any better success there than here ? The very 
earliest Christians boasted that the blood of the martyrs 
was the seed of the church. The Emperor Julian, the 
most terrible enemy that Christianity ever experienced, 
was fully persuaded of this. Convinced that persecution 
did but kindle enthusiasm he betook himself to ridicule 
and derision, and found these weapons far more effective 
than force. In the Greek empire different teachers of 
heresy have arisen at different times. Arius under Con- 
stantine, Aetius under Constantius, Nestorius under 
Theodosius. But even against these arch-heretics and 
their disciples such cruel measures were never resorted 
to as are thought necessary against our unfortunate 
country — and yet where are all tliose sects now which 
once a whole world, I had almost said, could not contain? 
This is the natural course of heresy. If it is treated with 
contempt it crumbles into insignificance. It is as iron, 
which, if it lies idle, corrodes, and only becomes sharp by 
use. Let no notice be paid to it, and it loses its most 
powerful attraction, the magic of what is new and what 
is forbidden. Why will we not content ourselves with 
the measures which have been approved of by the 
wisdom of such great rulers ? Example is ever tlie safest 

" But what need to go to pagan antiquity for guidance 
and example when we have near at hand the glorious 
precedent of Charles V., the greatest of kings, who taught 
at last by experience, abandoned the bloody path of per- 


Becution, and for many years before his abdication 
adopted milder measures. And Philip himself, our most 
gracious sovereign, seemed at first strongly inclined to 
leniency until the counsels of Granvella and of others 
like him changed these views ; but with what right or 
wisdom they may settle between themselves. To me, 
however, it has always a23peared indispensable that legis- 
lation to be wise and successful must adjust itself to the 
manners and maxims of the times. In conclusion, 1 
would beg to remind you of the close understanding 
which subsists between the Huguenots and the Flemish 
Protestants. Let us beware of exasperating them any 
further. Let us not act the part of French Catholics 
towards them, lest they should play the Huguenots 
against us, and, like the latter, plunge their country into 
the horrors of a civil war." =* 

It was, perhaps, not so much the irresistible truth of 
his arguments, which, moreover, were supported by a 
decisive majority in the senate, as rather the ruinous 
state of the military resources, and the exhaustion of 
the treasury^ that prevented the adoption of the opposite 
opinion which recommended an appeal to the force of 
arms that the Prince of Orange had chiefly to thank for 
the attention which now at last was paid to his represen- 
tations. In order to avert at first the violence of the 
storm, and to gain time, which was so necessary to place 
the government in a better sate of preparation, it was 
agreed that a portion of the demands should be accorded 
to the confederates. It was also resolved to mitigate the 
penal statutes of the Emperor, as he himself would cer- 
tainly mitigate them, were he again to appear among 
them at that day — and as, indeed, he had once shown 
under circumstances very similar to the present that he 
did not think it derogatory to his high dignity to do. 
The Inquisition was not to be introduced in any place 
where it did not already exist, and where it had been it 
should adopt a milder system, or even be entirely sus- 

* No one need wonder, says Burgundias (a vehement stickler for the 
Roman Catholic religion and the Spanish party), that the speech of this 
prince evinced so much acquaintance with philosophy ; he had acquired it in 
his intercourse with Balduin. 180. Barry, 174-178. Hopper, 72. Strada. 
123, 124. 


pended, especially since the inquisitors had not yet been 
confirmed in their oifice by the pope. The latter reason 
was put prominently forward, in order to deprive the 
Protestants of the gratification of ascribing the conces- 
sions to any fear of their own power, or to the justice of 
their demands. The privy council was commissioned to 
draw out this decree of the senate without delay. Thus 
prepared the confederates were awaited. 


The members of the senate had not yet dispersed, 
when all Brussels resounded with the report that the 
confederates were approaching the town. They con- 
sisted of no more than two hundred horse, but rumor 
greatly exaggerated their numbers. Filled with conster- 
nation, the regent consulted with her ministers whether 
it was best to close the gates on the approaching party or 
to seek safety in flight ? Both suggestions were rejected 
as dishonorable ; and the peaceable entry of the nobles 
soon allayed all fears of violence. The first morning 
after their arrival they assembled at Kuilemberg house, 
where Brederode administered to them a second oath, 
binding them before all other duties to stand by one 
another, and even with arms if necessary. At this meet- 
ing a letter from Spain was produced, in which it was 
stated that a certain Protestant, whom they all knew and 
valued, had been burned alive in that country by a slow 
fire. After these and similar preliminaries he called on 
them one after another by name to take the new oath 
and renew the old one in their own names and in those 
of the absent. The next day, the 5th of April, 1556, 
was fixed for the presentation of the petition. Their 
numbers now amounted to between three and four 
hundred. Amongst them were many retainers of the 
high nobility, as also several servants of the king himself 
and of the duchess. 

With the Counts of Nassau and Brederode at their 
head, and formed in ranks of four by four, they advanced 
in procession to the palace ; all Brussels attended the 
unwonted spectacle in silent astonishment. Here were 


to be seen a body of men advancing with too much bold- 
ness and confidence to look like supplicants, and led by- 
two men who were not wont to be petitioners ; and, on 
the other hand, with so much order and stillness as do 
not usually accompany rebellion. The regent received 
the procession surrounded by all her counsellors and the 
Knights of the Fleece. " These noble Netherlanders," 
thus Brederode respectfully addressed her, " who here 
present themselves before your highness, wish in their own 
name, and of many others besides who are shortly to 
arrive, to present to you a petition of whose importance 
as well as of their own humility this solemn procession 
must convince you. I, as speaker of this body, entreat 
you to receive our petition, which contains nothing but 
what is in unison with the laws of our country and the 
honor of the king." 

" If this petition," replied Margaret, " really contains 
nothing which is at variance either with the good of the 
country, or with the authority of the king, there is no 
doubt that it will be favorably considered." " They had 
learnt," continued the spokesman, " with indignation and 
regret that suspicious objects had been imputed to thei*: 
association, and that interested parties had endeavored 
to prejudice her highness against him ; they therefor© 
craved that she would name the authors of so grave ai^ 
accusation, and compel them to bring their charges pub* 
licly, and in due form, in order that he who should b« 
found guilty might suffer the punishment of his de* 
merits." " Undoubtedly," replied the regent, " she had 
received unfavorable rumors of their designs and alliance^ 
She could not be blamed, if in consequence she had 
thought it requisite to call the attention of the governors 
of the provinces to the matter ; but, as to giving up the 
names of her informants to betray state secrets," she 
added, with an appearance of displeasure, "that could not 
in justice be required of her." She then appointed the 
next day for answering their petition ; and in the mean- 
time she proceeded to consult the members of her coun- 
cil upon it. 

" ISTever " (so ran the petition which, according to some, 
was drawn up by the celebrated Balduin), "never had 


they failed in their loyalty to their king, and nothing now 
could be farther from their hearts ; but they would 
rather run the risk of incurring the displeasure of their 
sovereign than allow him to remain longer in ignorance 
of the evils with which their native country was menaced, 
by the forcible introduction of the Inquisition and the 
continued enforcement of the edicts. They had long re- 
mained consoling themselves with the expectation that a 
general assembly of the states would be summoned to 
remedy these grievances ; but now that even this hope 
was extinguished, they held it to be their duty to give 
timely warning to the regent. They, therefore, entreated 
her highness to send to Madrid an envoy, well disposed, 
and fully acquainted with the state and temper of the 
times, who should endeavor to persuade the king to com- 
ply with the demands of the whole nation, and abolish 
the Inquisition, to revoke the edicts, and in their stead 
cause new and more humane ones to be drawn up at a 
general assembly of the states. But, in the meanwhile, 
until they could learn the king's decision, they pra3'ed 
that the edicts and the operations of the Inquisition be 
suspended." " If," they concluded, " no attention should 
be paid to their humble request, they took God, the king, 
the regent, and all her counsellors to witness that they 
had done their part, and were not responsible for any 
unfortunate result that might happen." 

The following day the confederates, marching in the 
same order of procession, but in still greater numbers 
(Counts Bergen and Kuilemberg having, in the interim, 
joined them with their adherents), appeared before tlip 
regent in order to receive her answer. It was written od 
the margin of the petition, and was to the effect, "that 
entirely to suspend the Inquisition and the edicts, even 
temporarily, was beyond her powers ; but in compliance 
with the washes of the confederates she was ready to 
despatch one of the nobles to the king in Spain, and also 
to support their petition with all her influence. In the 
meantime, she would recommend the inquisitors to ad- 
minister their office with moderation ; but in return she 
should expect on the part of the league that they should 
abstain from all acts of violence, and undertake nothing 


to the prejudice of the Catholic faith." Little as these 
vague and general promises satisfied the confederates, 
they were, nevertheless, as much as they could have 
reasonably expected to gain at first. The granting or 
refusing of the petition had nothing to do with the pri- 
mary object of the league. Enough for them at present 
that it was once recognized, enough that it was now, as it 
were, an established body, which by its power and 
threats might, if necessary, overawe the government. 
The confederates, therefore, acted quite consistently with 
their designs, in contenting themselves with this answer, 
and referring the rest to the good pleasure of the king. 
As, indeed, the whole pantomime of petitioning had only 
been invented to cover the more daring plan of the 
league, until it should have strength enough to show 
itself in its true light, they felt that much more depended 
on their being able to continue this mask, and on the 
favorable reception of their petition, than on its speedily 
being granted. In a new memorial, which they delivered 
three days after, they pressed for an express testimonial 
from the regent that they had done no more than their 
duty, and been guided simply by their zeal for the ser- 
vice of the king. When the duchess evaded a declara- 
tion, they even sent a person to repeat this request in a 
.private interview. " Time alone and their future be- 
havior," she replied to this person, " would enable her to 
judge of their designs." 

The league had its origin in banquets, and a banquet 
gave it form and perfection. On the very day that the 
second petition was presented Brederode entertained 
the confederates in Kuilemberar house. About three 
hundred guests assembled ; intoxication gave them cour- 
age, and their audacity rose with their numbers. During 
the conversation one of their number happened to remark 
that he had overheard the Count of Barlaimont whisper 
in French to the regent, who was seen to turn pale on 
the delivery of the petitions, that " she need not be afraid 
of a band of beggars (gueux);" (in fact, the majority of 
them had by their bad management of their incomes only 
too well deserved this appellation.) Now, as the very 
name for their fraternity was the very thing which had 


most perplexed them, an expression was eagerly caught 
up, which, while it cloaked the presumption of their 
enterprise in humility, was at the same time appropriate 
to them as petitioners. Immediately they drank to one 
another under this name, and the cry "long live the 
Gueux!" was accompanied with a general shout of 
applause. After the cloth had been removed Brederode 
appeared with a wallet over his shoulder similar to that 
which the vagrant pilgrims and mendicant monks of the 
time used to carry, and after returning thanks to all for 
their accession to the league, and boldly assuring them 
that he was ready to venture life and limb for every 
individual present, he drank to the health of the whole 
company out of a wooden beaker. The cup went round 
and every one uttered the same vow as he set it to his 
lips. Then one after the other they received the beggar's 
purse, and each hung it on a nail which he had appro- 
priated to himself. The shouts and uproar attending 
this buffoonery attracted the Prince of Orange and 
Counts Egmont and Horn, who by chance were passing 
the spot at the very moment, and on entering the house 
were boisterously pressed by Brederode, as host, to remain 
and drink a glass with them.* 

The entrance of three such influential personages 
renewed the mirth of the guests, and their festivities 
soon passed the bounds of moderation. Many were 
intoxicated ; guests and attendants mingled together 
without distinction ; the serious and the ludicrous, 
drunken fancies and affairs of state were blended one 
with another in a burlesque medley ; and the discussions 
on the general distress of the country ended in the wild 
uproar of a bacchanalian revel. But it did not stop here ; 
what they had resolved on in the moment of intoxication 
they attempted when sober to carry into execution. It 
was necessary to manifest to the people in some striking 

* "But," Egmont asserted in his written defence, "we drank only one 
single small glass, and thereupon they cried "long live the king and the 
Gueux ! ' This was the first time that I heard that appellation, and it cer- 
tainly did not please me. But the times were so bad that one was often 
compelled to share in much that was against one's inclination, and I knew 
not but I was doing an innocent thing." Proems criminels des Comtea 
d'Egmont, etc., 7. 1. Egmont's defence, Hopper, 94. Strada, 127-130. Bur- 
gund., 185, 187. 


shape the existence of their protectors, and likewise to 
fan the zeal of the faction by a visible emblem; for 
this end nothing could be better than to adopt publicly 
this name of Gueux, and to borrow from it the tokens of 
the association. In a few days the town of Brussels 
swarmed with ash-gray garments such as were usually 
worn by mendicant friars and penitents. Every con- 
federate put his whole family and domestics in this dress. 
Some carried wooden bowls thinly overlaid with plates 
of silver, cups of the same kind, and wooden knives ; in 
short the whole paraphernalia of the beggar tribe, which 
they either fixed around their hats or suspended from 
their girdles. Round the neck they wore a golden or 
silver coin, afterwards called the Geusen penny, of w^hich 
one side bore the effigy of the king, with the inscription, 
" True to the king ; " on the other side were seen two 
hands folded together holding a wallet, with tlie words 
" as far as the beggar's scrip." Hence the origin of the 
name "Gueux," which was subsequently borne in the 
Netherlands by all who seceded from popery and took 
up arms against the king. 

Before the confederates separated and dispersed among 
the provinces they presented themselves once more before 
the duchess, in order to remind her of the necessity of 
leniency towards the heretics until the arrival of the 
king's answer from Spain, if she did not wish to drive the 
people to extremities. "If, however," they added, "a 
contrary behavior should give rise to any evils they at 
least must be regarded as having done their duty." 

To this the regent replied, " she hoped to be able to 
adopt such measures as would render it impossible for 
disorders to ensue ; but if, nevertheless, they did occur, 
she could ascribe them to no one but the confederates. 
She therefore earnestly admonished them on their part 
to fulfil their engagements, but especially to receive no 
new members into the league, to hold no more private 
assemblies, and generally not to attempt any novel and 
unconstitutional measures." And in order to tranquillize 
their minds she commanded her private secretary, Berti, 
to show them the letters to the inquisitors and secular 
judges, wherein they were enjoined to observe modera 
11 —Schiller ^^ol. VII. 


tion towards all those who had not aggravated theit 
heretical offences by any civil crime. Before their 
departure from Brussels they named four presidents from 
among their number who were to take care of the affairs 
of the league, and also particular administrators for each 
province. A few were left behind in Brussels to keep a 
watchful eve on all the movements of the court. Bre- 
derode, Kuilemberg, and Bergen at last quitted the town, 
attended by five hundred and fifty horsemen, saluted it 
once more beyond the walls with a discharge of musketry, 
and then the three leaders parted, Brederode taking the 
road to Antwerp, and the two others to Guelders. The 
regent had sent off an express to Antwerp to warn the 
magistrate of that town against him. On his arrival 
more than a thousand persons thronged to the hotel 
where he had taken up his abode. Showing himself at 
a window, with a full wineglass in his hand, he thus 
addressed them : " Citizens of Antwerp ! I am here at 
the hazard of my life and my property to relieve you 
from the oppressive burden of the Inquisition. If you 
are ready to share this enterprise with me, and to ac- 
knowledge me as your leader, accept the health which 
I here drink to you, and hold up your hands in testimony 
of your approbation." Hereupon he drank to their health, 
and all hands were raised amidst clamorous shouts of 
exultation. -After this heroic deed he quitted Antwerp. 

Immediately after the delivery of the " petition of the 
nobles," the regent had caused a new form of the edicts 
to be drawn up in the privy council, which should keep 
the mean between the commands of the king and the 
demands of the confederates. But the next question that 
arose was to determine whether it would be advisable 
immediately to promulgate this mitigated form, or mode- 
ration, as it was commonly called, or to submit it first to 
the king for his ratification. The privy council who 
maintained that it would be presumptuous to take a step 
so important and so contrary to the declared sentiments 
of the monarch without having first obtained his sanction, 
opposed the vote of the Prince of Orange who supported 
the former proposition. Besides, they urged, there was 
cause to fear that it would not even content the nation. 


A "moderation" devised with the assent of the states 
was what they particularly insisted on. In order, there- 
fore, to gain the consent of the states, or rather to obtain 
it from them by stealth, the regent artfully proj^ounded 
the question to the provinces singly, and first of all to 
those which possessed the least freedom, such as Artois, 
Namur, and Luxemburg. Thus she not only prevented 
one province encouraging another in opposition, but also 
gained this advantage by it, that the freer provinces, such 
as Flanders and Brabant, which were prudently reserved 
to the last, allowed themselves to be carried away by the 
example of the others. By a very illegal procedure the 
representatives of the towns were taken by surprise, and 
their consent exacted before they could confer with their 
constituents, while complete silence was imposed upon 
them with regard to the whole transaction. By these 
means the regent obtained the unconditional consent of 
some of the provinces to the "moderation," and, with a 
few slight changes, that of other provinces. Luxemburg 
and Namur subscribed it without scruple. The states of 
Artois simply added the condition that false informers 
should be subjected to a retributive penalty ; those of 
Hainault demanded that instead of confiscation of the 
estates, which directly militated against their privileges, 
another discretionary punishment should be introduced. 
Flanders called for the entire abolition of the Inquisition, 
and desired that the accused might be secured in right of 
appeal to their own province. The states of Brabant 
were outwitted by the intrigues of the court. Zealand, 
Holland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Friesland as being prov- 
inces which enjoyed the most important privileges, and 
which, moreover, watched over them with the greatest 
jealousy, were never asked for their opinion. The pro- 
vincial courts of judicature had also been required to make 
a report on the projected amendment of the law, but 
we may well suppose that it was unfavorable, as it never 
reached Spain. From the principal cause of this "mode- 
ration," which, however, really deserved its name, we may 
form a judgment of the general character of the edicts 
themselves. " Sectarian writers," it ran, "the heads and 
teachers of sects, as also those who conceal heretical 


meetings, or cause any other public scandal, shall be 
punished with the gallows, and their estates, where the 
law of the province permit it, confiscated ; but if they 
abjure their errors, their punishment shall be commuted 
into decapitation with the sword, and their effects shall be 
preserved to their families." A cruel snare for parental 
affection ! Less grievous heretics, it was further enacted, 
shall, if penitent, be pardoned ; and if impenitent shall 
be compelled to leave the country, without, however, for- 
feiting their estates, unless by continuing to lead others 
astray they deprive themselves of the benefit of this pro- 
vision. The Anabaptists, however, were expressly ex- 
cluded from benefiting by this clause ; these, if they did 
not clear themselves by the most thorough repentance, 
were to forfeit their possessions ; and if, on the other 
hand, they relapsed after penitence, that is, were back- 
sliding heretics, they were to be put to death without 
mercy. The greater regard for life and property which 
is observable in this ordinance as compared with the 
edicts, and which we might be tempted to ascribe to 
a change of intention in the Spanish ministry, was nothing 
more than a compulsory step extorted by the determined 
opposition of the nobles. So little, too, were the people 
in the Netherlands satisfied by this " moderation," which 
fundamentally did not remove a single abuse, that instead 
of " moderation " (mitigation), they indignantly called it 
" moorderation," that is, murdering. 

After the consent of the states had in this manner been 
extorted from them, the " moderation " was submitted to 
the council of the state, and, after receiving their signa- 
tures, forwarded to the king in Spain in order to receive 
from his ratification the force of law. 

The embassy to Madrid, which had been agreed upon 
with the confederates, was at the outset entrusted to the 
Marquis of Bergen,"* who, however, from a distrust of 
the present disposition of the king, which was only too 
well grounded, and from reluctance to engage alone in so 
delicate a business, begged for a coadjutor. He obtained 

* This Marquis of Bergen is to be distinguished from Count William of 
Bergen, who was among the first who subscribed the covenant. Vigl. ad 
Hopper, Letter VIL 


one in the Baron of Montigny, who had previously been 
employed in a similar duty, and had discharged it with 
high credit. As, however, circumstances had since altered 
so much that he had just anxiety as to his present recep- 
tion in Madrid for his greater safety, he stipulated with 
the duchess that she should write to the monarch pre- 
viously ; and that he, with his companion, should, in the 
meanwhile, travel slowly enough to give time for the 
king's answer reaching him en route. His good genius 
wished, as it appeared, to save him from the terrible fate 
which awaited him in Madrid, for his departure was de- 
layed by an unexpected obstacle, the Marquis of Bergen 
being disabled from setting out immediately through a 
wound which he received from the blow of a tennis-ball. 
At last, however, yielding to the pressing importunities of 
the regent, who was anxious to expedite the business, he 
set out alone, not, as he hoped, to carry the cause of his 
nation, but to die for it. 

In the meantime the posture of affairs had changed so 
greatly in the Netherlands, the step which the nobles had 
recently taken had so nearly brought on a complete rup- 
ture with the government, that it seemed impossible for 
the Prince of Orange and his friends to maintain any 
longer the intermediate and delicate position which they 
had hitherto held between the country and the court, or 
to reconcile the contradictory duties to which it gave 
rise. Great must have been the restraint which, with 
their mode of thinking, they had to put on themselves 
not to take part in this contest ; much, too, must their 
natural love of liberty, their patriotism, and their prin- 
ciples of toleration have suffered from the constraint 
which their official station imposed upon them. On the 
other hand, Philip's distrust, the little regard which now 
for a long time had been paid to their advice, and the 
marked slights which the duchess publicly put upon 
them, had greatly contributed to cool their zeal for the 
service, and to render irksome the longer continuance of 
a part which they played with so much repugnance and 
with so little thanks. This feeling was strengthened 
by several intimations they received from Spain which 
placed beyond doubt the great displeasure of the king at 


the petition of the nobles, and his little satisfaction with 
their own behavior on that occasion, while they were also 
led to expect that he was about to enter upon measures, 
to which, as favorable to the liberties of their country, 
and for the most part friends or blood relations of the 
confederates, they could never lend their countenance 
or support. On the name which should be applied in 
Spain to the confederacy of the nobles it principally 
depended what course they should follow for the future. 
If the petition should be called rebellion no alternative 
would be left them but either to come prematurely to a 
dangerous explanation with the court, or to aid it in 
treating as enemies those with whom they had both a 
fellow-feeling and a common interest. This perilous al- 
ternative could only be avoided by withdrawing entirely 
from public affairs ; this plan they had once before practi- 
cally adopted, and under present circumstances it was 
something more than a simple expedient. The whole 
nation had their eyes upon them. An unlimited con- 
fidence in their integrity, and the universal veneration for 
their persons, which closely bordered on idolatry, would 
ennoble the cause which they might make their own and 
ruin that w^hich they should abandon. Their share in the 
administration of the state, though it were nothing more 
than nominal, kept the opposite party in check; while 
they attended the senate violent measures were avoided 
because their continued presence still favored some ex- 
pectations of succeeding by gentle means. The with- 
holding of their approbation, even if it did not proceed 
from their hearts, dispirited the faction, which, on the 
contrary, would exert its full strength so soon as it could 
reckon even distantly on obtaining so Aveighty a sanction. 
The very measures of the government which, if they 
came through their hands, w^ere certain of a favorable 
reception and issue, would w^ithout them prove suspected 
and futile ; even the royal concessions, if they w^ere not 
obtained by the mediation of these friends of the people, 
would fail of the chief part of their efficacy. Besides, 
their retirement from public affairs would deprive the 
regent of the benefit of their advice at a time when coun- 
sel was most indispensable to her ; it would, moreover, 


leave the preponderance with a party which, blindly de- 
pendent on the court, and ignorant of the peculiarities 
of republican character, would neglect nothing to aggra- 
vate the evil, and to drive to extremity the already 
exasperated mind of the public. 

All these motives (and it is open to every one, ac- 
cording to his good or bad opinion of the prince, to say 
which was the most influential) tended alike to move him 
to desert the regent, and to divest himself of all share in 
public affairs. An opportunity for putting this resolve 
into execution soon presented itself. The prince had 
voted for the immediate promulgation of the newly- 
revised edicts ; but the regent, following the suggestion 
of her privy council, had determined to transmit them 
first to the king. " I now see clearly," he broke out with 
well-acted vehemence, " that all the advice which I give 
is distrusted. The king requires no servants whose 
loyalty he is determined to doubt; and far be it from me 
to thrust my services upon a sovereign who is unwilling 
to receive them. Better, therefore, for him and me that 
I withdraw from public affairs." Count Horn expressed 
himself nearly to the same effect. Egmont requested 
permission to visit the baths of Aix-la-Chapelle, the use 
of which had been prescribed to him by his physician, 
although (as it is stated in his accusation) he appeared 
health itself. The regent, terrified at the consequences 
which must inevitably follow this step, spoke sharply to 
the prince. " If neither my representations, nor the 
general welfare can prevail upon you, so far as to induce 
you to relinquish this intention, let me advise you to be 
more careful, at least, of your own reputation. Louis of 
Nassau is your brother; he and Count Brederode, the 
heads of the confederacy, have publicly been your guests. 
The petition is in substance identical with your own 
representations in the council of state. If you now sud- 
denly desert the cause of your king will it not be uni- 
versally said that you favor the conspiracy ? " We do not 
find it anywhere stated whether the prince really with- 
drew at this time from the council of state ; at all events, 
if he did, he must soon have altered his mind, for shortly 
after he appears again in public transactions. Egmont 


allowed himself to be overcome by the remonstrances of 
the regent ; Horn alone actually withdrew himself to one 
of his estates,"* with the resolution of never more serving 
either emperor or king. Meanwhile thfe Gueux had dis- 
persed themselves through the provinces, and spread 
everywhere the most favorable reports of their success. 
According to their assertions, religious freedom was 
finally assured ; and in order to confirm their statements 
they helped themselves, where the truth failed, with 
falsehood. For example, they produced a forged letter 
of the Knights of the Fleece, in which the latter were made 
solemnly to declare that for the future no one need fear 
imprisonment, or banishment, or death on account of 
religion, unless he also committed a political crime ; and 
even in that case the confederates alone were to be his 
judges; and this regulation was to be in force until the 
king, with the consent and advice of the gtates of the 
realm, should otherwise dispose. Earnestly as the knights 
applied themselves upon the first information of the 
fraud to rescue the nation from their delusion, still it 
had already in this short interval done good service 
to the faction. If there are truths whose effect is limited 
to a single instant, then inventions which last so long can 
easily assume their place. Besides, the report, however 
false, was calculated both to awaken distrust between the 
regent and the knights, and to support the courage of the 
Protestants by fresh hopes, while it also furnished those 
who were meditating innovation an appearance of right, 
which, however unsubstantial they themselves knew it to 
be, served as a colorable pretext for their proceedings. 
Quickly as this delusion was dispelled, still, in the short 
space of time that it obtained belief, it had occasioned so 
many extravagances, had introduced so much irregularity 
and license, that a return to the former state of things 
became impossible, and continuance in the course already 
commenced was rendered necessary as well by habit as 
by despair. On the very first news of this happy result 
the fugitive Protestants had returned to their homes, 
which they had so unwillingly abandoned ; those who had 
been in concealment came forth from their hiding-places ; 

* Wliere he remained tliree months inactive. 


those who had hitherto paid homage to the new religion 
in their hearts alone, emboldened by these pretended acts 
of toleration, now gave in their adhesion to it publicly 
and decidedly. The name of the " Gueux " was extolled 
in all the provinces ; they were called the pillars of relig- 
ion and liberty ; their party increased daily, and many 
of the merchants began to wear their insignia. The 
latter made an alteration in the " Gueux " penny, by 
introducing two travellers' staffs, laid crosswise, to inti- 
mate that they stood prepared and ready at any instant 
to forsake house and hearth for the sake of religion. 
The Gueux league, in short, had now given to things an 
entirely different form. The murmurs of the people, 
hitherto impotent and despised, as being the cries of 
individuals, had, now that they were concentrated, be- 
come formidable ; and had gained power, direction, and 
firmness through union. Every one who was rebelliously 
disposed now looked on himself as the member of a 
venerable and powerful body, and believed that by carry- 
ing his own complaints to the general stock of discontent 
he secured the free expression of them. To be called an 
important acquisition to the league flattered the vain ; to 
be lost, unnoticed, and irresponsible in the crowd was 
an inducement to the timid. The face which the con- 
federacy showed to the nation was very unlike that 
which it had turned to the court. But had its objects 
been the purest, had it really been as well disposed 
towards the throne as it wished to appear, still the multi- 
tude would have regarded only what was illegal in its 
proceedings, and upon them its better intentions would 
have been entirely lost. 


No moment could be more favorable to the Huguenots 
and the German Protestants than the present to seek 
a market for their dangerous commodity in the Neth- 
erlands. Accordingly, every considerable town now 
swarmed with suspicious arrivals, masked spies, and the 
apostles of every description of heresy. Of the religious 
parties, which had sprung up by secession from the ruling 


church, three chiefly had made considerable progress in 
the provinces. Friesland and the adjoining districts 
were overrun by the Anabaptists, who, however, as the 
most indigent, without organization and government, 
destitute of military resources, and moreover at strife 
amongst themselves, awakened the least apprehension. 
Of far more importance were the Calvanists, who pre- 
vailed in the southern provinces, and above all in Flanders, 
who were powerfully supported by their neighbors the 
Huguenots, the republic of Geneva, the Swiss Cantons, 
and part of Germany, and whose opinions, with the ex- 
ception of a slight difference, were also held by the throne 
in England. They were also the most numerous party, 
especially among the merchants and common citizens. 
The Huguenots, expelled from France, had been the chief 
disseminators of the tenets of this party. The Lutherans 
were inferior both in numbers and wealth, but derived 
weight from having many adherents among the nobility. 
They occupied, for the most part, the eastern portion of 
the Netherlands, which borders on Germany, and were 
also to be found in some of the northern territories. 
Some of the most powerful princes of Germany were 
their allies ; and the religious freedom of that empire, of 
which by the Burgundian treaty the Netherlands formed 
an integral part, was claimed by them with some appear- 
ance of right. These three religious denominations met 
together in Antwerp, where the crowded population con- 
cealed them, and the mingling of all nations favored 
liberty. They had nothing in common, except an equally 
inextinguishable hatred of popery, of the Inquisition in 
particular, and of the Spanish government, whose instru- 
ment it was ; while, on the other hand, they watched each 
other with a jealousy which kept their zeal in exercise, 
and perverted the glowing ardor of fanaticism from wax* 
ing dull. 

The regent, in expectation that the projected "moder- 
ation" would be sanctioned by the king, had, in the 
meantime, to gratify the Gueux, recommended the gov- 
ernors and municipal officers of the provinces to be as 
moderate as possible in their proceedings against here- 
tics; instructions which were eagerly followed, and in- 


terpreted in the widest sense by the majority, who had 
hitherto administered the painful duty of punishment 
with extreme repugnance. Most of the chief magistrates 
were in their hearts averse to the Inquisition and the 
Spanish tyranny, and many were even secretly attached 
to one or other of the religious parties ; even the others 
were unwilling to inflict punishment on their countrymen 
to gratify their sworn enemies, the Spaniards. All, there- 
fore, purposely misunderstood the regent, and allowed 
the Inquisition and the edicts to fall almost entirely into 
disuse. This forbearance of the government, combined 
with the brilliant representations of the Gueux, lured 
from their obscurity the Protestants, who, however, had 
now grown too powerful to be any longer concealed. 
Hitherto they had contented themselves with secret as- 
semblies by night ; now they thought themselves numer- 
ous and formidable enough to venture to these meetings 
openly and publicly. This license commenced some- 
where between Oudenarde and Ghent, and soon spread 
through the rest of Flanders. A certain Hermann 
Strieker, born at Overyssel, formerly a monk, a daring- 
enthusiast of able mind, imposing figure, and ready 
tongue, was the first who collected the people for a 
sermon in the open air. The novelty of the thing gath- 
ered together a crowd of about seven thousand persons. 
A magistrate of the neighborhood, more courageous 
than wise, rushed amongst the crowd with his drawn 
sword, and attempted to seize the preacher, but was so 
roughly handled by the multitude, who for want of other 
weapons took up stones and felled him to the ground, 
that he waa glad to beg for his life.* 

This success of the first attempt inspired courage for a 
second. In the vicinity of Aalst they assembled again 
in still greater numbers ; but on this occasion they pro^ 
vided themselves with rapiers, firearms, and halberds, 
placed sentries at all the approaches, which they also 
barricaded with carts and carriages. All passers-by were 

* The unheard-of foolhardiness of a single man rushing into the midst of 
a fanatical crowd of seven thousand people to seize before their eyes one 
whom they adored, proves, more than all that can be said on the subieet, the 
insolent contempt with which the Roman Catholics of the time looked down 
upon the so-called heretics as an inferior race of beings. 


obliged, whether willing or otherwise, to take part in the 
religious service, and to enforce this object lookout par- 
ties were posted at certain distances round the place of 
meeting. At the entrance booksellers stationed them- 
selves, offering for sale Protestant catechisms, religious 
tracts, and pasquinades on the bishops. The preacher, 
Hermann Strieker, held forth from a pulpit which was 
hastily constructed for the occasion out of carts and 
trunks of trees. A canvas awning drawn over it pro- 
tected him from the sun and the rain; the preacher's 
position was in the quarter of the wind that the people 
might not lose any part of his sermon, which consisted 
principally of revilings against popery. Here the sacra- 
ments were administered after the Calvinistic fashion, 
and water was procured from the nearest river to baptize 
infants without further ceremony, after the practice, it 
was pretended, of the earliest times of Christianity. 
Couples were also united in wedlock, and the marriage 
ties dissolved between others. To be present at this 
meeting half the population of Ghent had left its gates ; 
their example was soon followed in other parts, and ere 
long spread over the whole of East Flanders. In like 
manner Peter Dathen, another renegade monk, from 
Poperingen, stirred up West Flanders ; as many as fifteen 
thousand persons at a time attended his preaching from the 
villages and hamlets ; their number made them bold, and 
they broke into the prisons, where some Anabaptists were 
reserved for martyrdom. In Tournay the Protestants 
were excited to a similar pitch of daring by Ambrosius 
Ville, a French Calvinist. They demanded the release of 
the prisoners of their sect, and repeatedly threatened 
if their demands were not complied with to deliver up 
the town to the French. It was entirely destitute of a 
garrison, for the commandant, from fear of treason, had 
withdrawn it into the castle, and the soldiers, moreover, 
refused to act against their fellow-citizens. The secta- 
rians carried their audacity to such great lengths as to 
require one of the churches within the town to be as- 
signed to them ; and when this was refused they entered 
into a league with Valenciennes and Antwerp to obtain 
a legal recognition of their worship, after the example of 


the other towns, by open force. These three towns main- 
tained a close connection with each other, and the Prot- 
estant party was equally powerful in all. While, how- 
ever, no one would venture singly to commence the dis- 
turbance, they agreed simultaneously to make a beginning 
with public preaching. Brederode's appearance in Ant- 
werp at last gave them courage. Six thousand persons, 
men and women, poured forth from the town on an ap- 
pointed day, on which the same thing happened in Tour- 
nay and Valenciennes. The place of meeting was closed 
in with a line of vehicles, firmly fastened together, and 
behind them armed men were secretly posted, with a 
view to protect the service from any surprise. Of the 
preachers, most of whom were men of the very lowest 
class — some were Germans, some were Huguenots — 
and spoke in the Walloon dialect ; some even of the citi- 
zens felt themselves called upon to take a part in this 
sacred work, now that no fears of the officers of justice 
alarmed them. Many were drawn to the spot by mere 
curiosity to hear what kind of new and unheard-of doc- 
trines these foreign teachers, whose arrival had caused so 
much talk, would set forth. Others were attracted by the 
melody of the psalms, which were sung in a French ver- 
sion, after the custom in Geneva. A great number came 
to hear these sermons as so many amusing comedies : 
such was the buffoonery with which the pope, the fathers 
of the ecclesiastical council of Trent, purgatory, and 
other dogmas of the ruling church were abused in them. 
And, in fact, the more extravagant was this abuse and rid- 
icule the more it tickled the ears of the lower orders ; 
and a universal clapping of hands, as in a theatre, re- 
warded the speaker who had surpassed others in the 
wildness of his jokes and denunciations. But the ridi- 
cule which was thus cast upon the ruling church was, 
nevertheless, not entirely lost on the minds of the hearers, 
as neither were the few grains of truth or reason which 
occasionally slipped in among it ; and many a one, who 
had sought from these sermons anything but conviction, 
unconsciously carried away a little also of it. 

These assemblies were several times repeated, and 
each day augmented the boldness of the sectarians ; till 


at last they even ventured, after concluding the service, 
to conduct their preachers home in triumph, with an 
escort of armed horsemen, and ostentatiously to brave 
the law. The town council sent express after express to 
the duchess, entreating he^' to visit them in person, and 
if possible to reside for a .«hort time in Antwerp, as the 
only expedient to curb the arrogance of the populace ; 
and assuring her that the most eminent merchants, 
afraid of being plundered, were already preparing to quit 
it. Fear of staking the royal dignity on so hazardous a 
stroke of policy forbade her compliance ; but she de- 
spatched in her stead Count Megen, in order to treat with 
the magistrate for the introduction of a garrison. The 
rebellious mob, who quickly got an inkling of the object 
of his visit, gathered around him with tumultuous cries, 
shouting, " He was known to them as a sworn enemy of 
the Gueux; that it was notorious he was bringing upon 
them prisons and the Inquisition, and that he should 
leave the town instantly." Nor was the tumult quieted 
till Megen was beyond the gates. The Calvinists now 
handed in to the magistrate a memorial, in which they 
showed that their great numbers made it impossible for 
them henceforward to assemble in secrecy, and requested 
a separate place of worship to be allowed them inside 
the town. The town council renewed its entreaties to 
the duchess to assist, by her personal presence, their per- 
plexities, or at least to send to them the Prince of Orange, 
as the only person for whom the people still had any 
respect, and, moreover, as specially bound to the town of 
Antwerp by his hereditary title of its burgrave. In 
order to escape the greater evil she was compelled to 
consent to the second demand, however much against 
her inclination to entrust Antwerp to the prince. After 
allowing himself to be long and fruitlessly entreated, for 
he had all at once resolved to take no further share in 
public affairs, he yielded at last to the earnest persuasions 
of the regent and the boisterous wishes of the people. 
Brederode, with a numerous retinue, came half a mile 
out of the town to meet him, and both parties saluted 
each other with a discharge of pistols. Antwerp ap- 
peared to have poured out all her inhabitants to welcome 


her deliverer. The high road swarmed with multitudes; 
the roofs were taken off the houses in order that they 
might accommodate more spectators; behind fences, 
from churchyard walls, even out of graves started up 
men. The attachment of the people to the prince showed 
itself in childish effusions. " Long live the Gueux ! " 
was the shout with which young and old received him. 
"Behold," cried others, "the man who shall give us lib- 
erty." " He brings us," cried the Lutherans, " the Con- 
fession of Augsburg ! " " We don't want the Gueux 
now ! " exclaimed others ; " we have no more need of the 
troublesome journey to Brussels. He alone is everything 
to us ! " Those who knew not what to say vented their 
extravagant joy in psalms, which they vociferously 
chanted as they moved along. He, however, maintained 
his gravity, beckoned for silence, and at last, when no 
one would listen to him, exclaimed with indignation, half 
real and half affected, "By God, they ought to consider 
what they did, or they would one day repent what they 
had now done." The shouting increased even as he rode 
into the town. The first conference of the prince with 
the heads of the different religious sects, whom he sent 
for and separately interrogated, presently convinced him 
that the chief source of the evil was the mutual distrust 
of the several parties, and the suspicions which the citi- 
zens entertained of the designs of the government, and 
that therefore it must be his first business to restore con- 
fidence among them all. First of all he attempted, both 
by persuasion and artifice, to induce the Calvinists, as 
the most numerous body, to lay down their weapons, and 
in this he at last, with much labor, succeeded. When, 
however, some wagons were soon afterwards seen laden 
with ammunition in Malines, and the high bailiff of Bra- 
bant showed himself frequently in the neighborhood of 
Antwerp with an armed force, the Calvinists, fearing 
hostile interruption of their religious worship, besought 
the prince to allot them a place within the walls for their 
sermons, which should be secure from a surprise. He suc- 
ceeded once more in pacifying them, and his presence 
fortunately prevented an outbreak on the Assumption of 
the Virgin, which, as usual, had drawn a crowd to the 


town, and from whose sentiments there was but too much 
reason for alarm. The image of the Virgin was, with 
the usual pomp, carried round the town without inter- 
ruption ; a few words of abuse, and a suppressed mur- 
mur about idolatry, was all that the disapproving multi- 
tudes indulged in against the procession. 

1566. While the regent received from one province 
after another the most melancholy accounts of the ex- 
cesses of the Protestants, and while she trembled for 
Antwerp, which she was compelled to leave in the dan- 
gerous hands of the Prince of Orange, a new terror 
assailed her from another quarter. Upon the first 
authentic tidings of the public preaching she immediately 
called upon the league to fulfil its promises and to assist 
her in restoring order. Count Brederode used this pre- 
text to summon a general meeting of the whole league, 
for which he could not have selected a more dangerous 
moment than the present. So ostentatious a display of 
the strength of the league, w^hose existence and protection 
had alone encouraged the Protestant mob to go the length 
it had already gone, would now raise the confidence of 
the sectarians, while in the same degree it depressed the 
courage of the regent. The convention took place in the 
town of Liege St. Truyen, into which Brederode and 
Louis of Nassau had thrown themselves at the head 
of two thousand confederates. As the long delay of the 
royal answer from Madrid seemed to presage no good 
from that quarter, they considered it advisable in any case 
to extort from the regent a letter of indemnity for their 

Those among them who were conscious of a disloyal 
sympathy with the Protestant mob looked on its licen- 
tiousness as a favorable circumstance for the league ; the 
apparent success of those to whose degrading fellowship 
they had deigned to stoop led them to alter their tone ; 
their former laudable zeal began to degenerate into inso- 
lence and defiance. Many thought that they ought to avail 
themselves of the general confusion and the perplexity 
of the duchess to assume a bolder tone and heap demand 
upon demand. The Roman Catholic members of the 
league, among whom many were in their hearts stilL 


strongly inclined to the royal cause, and who had been 
drawn into a connection with the league by occasion and 
example, rather than from feeling and conviction, now 
heard to their astonishment propositions for establishing 
universal freedom of religion, and were not a little 
shocked to discover in how perilous an enterprise they 
had hastily implicated themselves. On this discovery the 
young Count Mansfeld withdrew immediately from it, 
and internal dissensions already began to undermine the 
work of precipitation and haste, and imperceptibly to 
loosen the joints of the league. 

Count Egmont and William of Orange were empowered 
by the regent to treat with the confederates. Twelve of 
the latter, among whom were Louis of Nassau, Brederode, 
and Kuilemberg, conferred with thern in Duffle, a village 
near Malines. "Wherefore this new step?" demanded 
the regent by the mouth of these two noblemen. " I was 
required to despatch ambassadors to Spain ; and I sent 
them. The edicts and the Inquisition were complained 
of as too rigorous ; I have rendered both more lenient. 
A general assembly of the states of the realm was pro- 
posed ; I have submitted this request to the king btcause 
I could not grant it from my own authority. What, 
then, have I unwittingly either omitted or done that 
should render necessary this assembling in St. Truyen ? 
Is it perhaps fear of the king's anger and of its conse- 
quences that disturbs the confederates ? The provoca- 
tion certainly is great, but his mercy is even greater. 
Wb^re now is the promise of the league to excite no 
disturbances amongst the people? Where those high- 
sounding professions that they were ready to die at my 
feet rather than offend against any of the prerogatives of 
the crown ? The innovators already venture on things 
which border closelv on rebellion, and threaten the state 
with destruction ; and it is to the league that they appeal. 
If it continues silently to tolerate this it will justly bring 
on itself the charge of participating in the guilt of their 
offences ; if it is honestly disposed towards the sovereign 
it cannot remain longer inactive in this licentiousness of 
the mob. But, in truth, does it not itself outstrip the 
insane population by its dangerous example, concluding, 
12— Schiller Vol. VIL 


as it is known to do, alliances with the enemies of the 
country, and confirming the evil report of its designs by 
the present illegal meeting ? " 

Against these reproaches the league formally justified 
itself in a memorial which it deputed three of its mem- 
bers to deliver to the council of state at Brussels. 

" All," it commenced, " that your highness has done in 
respect to our petition we have felt with the most lively 
gratitude ; and we cannot complain of any new measure, 
subsequently adopted, inconsistent w^ith your promise ; 
but we cannot help coming to the conclusion that the 
orders of your highness are by the judicial courts, at 
least, very little regarded ; for we are continually hear- 
ing — and our own eyes attest to the truth of the report 
— .that in all quarters our fellow-citizens are in spite of 
the orders of your highness still mercilessly dragged 
before the courts of justice and condemned to death for 
religion. What the league engaged on its part to do it 
has honestly fulfilled ; it has, too, to the utmost of its 
power endeavored to prevent the public preachings ; but 
it certainly is no wonder if the long delay of an answer 
from Madrid fills the mind of the people with distrust, 
and if the disappointed hopes of a general assembly of 
the states disposes them to put little faith in any further 
assurances. The league has never allied, nor ever felt 
any temptation to ally, itself with the enemies of the 
country. If the arms of France were to appear in the 
provinces we, the confederates, would be the first to 
mount and drive them back again. The league, however, 
desires to be candid with your highness. We thought 
we read marks of displeasure in your countenance ; we 
see men in exclusive possession of your favor who are 
notorious for their hatred against us. We daily hear 
that persons are warned from associating with us, as with 
those infected with the plague, while we are denounced 
with the arrival of the king as with the opening of a day 
of judgment — what is more natural than that such dis- 
trust shown to us should at last rouse our own ? That 
the attempt to blacken our league with the reproach of 
treason, that the warlike preparations of the Duke of 
Savoy and of other princes, which, according to common 


report, are directed against ourselves ; the negotiations 
of the king with the French court to obtain a passage 
through that kingdom for a Spanish army, which is 
destined, it is said, for the Netherlands — what wonder 
if these and similar occurrences should have stimulated 
us to think in time of the means of self-defence, and to 
strengthen ourselves by an alliance with our friends 
beyond the frontier ? On a general, uncertain, and vague 
rumor we are accused of a share in this licentiousness of 
the Protestant mob ; but who is safe from general rumor ? 
True it is, certainly, that of our numbers some are Prot- 
estants, to whom religious toleration would be a wel- 
come boon ; but even they have never forgotten what 
they owe to their sovereign. It is not fear of the king's 
anger which instigated us to hold this assembly. The 
king is good, and we still hope that he is also just. It 
cannot, therefore, be pardon that we seek from him, and 
just as little can it be oblivion that we solicit for our 
actions, which are far from being the least considerable 
of the services we have at different times rendered his 
majesty. Again, it is true, that the delegates of the 
Lutherans and Calvinists are with us in St. Truyen; 
nay, more, they have delivered to us a petition which, 
annexed to this memorial, we here present to your high- 
ness. In it they offer to go unarmed to their preachings 
if the league will tender its security to them, and be 
willing to engage for a general meeting of the states. 
We have thought it incumbent upon us to communicate 
both these matters to you, for our guarantee can have no 
force unless it is at the same time confirmed by your 
highness and some of your principal counsellors. Among 
these no one can be so w^ell acquainted with the circum- 
stances of our cause, or be so upright in intention towards 
us, as the Prince of Orange and Counts Horn and Egmont. 
We gladly accept these three as meditators if the neces- 
sary powers are given to them, and assurance is afforded 
us that no troops will be enlisted without their knowl- 
edge. This guarantee, however, we only require for a 
given period, before the expiration of v/hich it will rest 
with the king whether he will cancel or confirm it for 
the future. If the first should be his will it will then be 


but fair that time should be allowed us to place our pen 
sons and our property in security ; for this three weeks 
will be sufficient. Finally, and in conclusion, we on our 
part also pledge ourselves to undertake nothing new 
without the concurrence of those three persons, our medi- 

The league would not have ventured to hold such bold 
language if it had not reckoned on powerful support and 
protection ; but the regent was as little in a condition to 
concede their demands as she was incapable of vigor- 
ously opposing them. Deserted in Brussels by most of 
her counsellors of state, who had either departed to their 
provinces, or under some pretext or other had altogether 
withdrawn from public affairs ; destitute as well of ad- 
visers as of money (the latter want had compelled her, in 
the first instance, to appeal to the liberality of the clergy ; 
when this proved insufficient, to have recourse to a lot- 
tery), dependent on orders from Spain, which were ever 
expected and never received, she was at last reduced to 
the degrading expedient of entering into a negotiation 
with the confederates in St. Truyen, that they should 
wait twenty-four days longer for the king's resolution 
before they took any further steps. It was certainly 
surprising that the king still continued to delay a deci- 
sive answer to the petition, although it was universally 
known that he had answered letters of a much later date, 
and that the regent earnestly importuned him on this 
head. She had also, on the commencement of the public 
preaching, immediately despatched the Marquis of Ber- 
gen after the Baron of Montigny, who, as an eye-witness 
of these new occurrences, could confirm her written 
statements, to move the king to an earlier decision. 

1566. In the meanwhile, the Flemish ambassador, 
Florence of Montigny, had arrived in Madrid, where he 
was received with a great show of consideration. His 
instructions were to press for the abolition of the Inquisi- 
tion and the mitigation of the edicts ; the augmentation 
of the council of state, and the incorporation with it of 
the two other councils ; the calling of a general assembly 
of the states, and, lastly, to urge the solicitations of the 
regent for a personal visit from the king. As the latter, 


however, was only desirous l>f gaining time, Montigny 
was put off with fair words until the arrival of his coad- 
jutor, without whom the king was not willing to come to 
any final determination. In the meantime, Montigny had 
every day and at any hour that he desired, an audience 
with the king, who also commanded that on all occasions 
the despatches of the duchess and the answers to them 
should be communicated to himself. He was, too, fre- 
quently admitted to the council for Belgian affairs, where 
he never omitted to call the king's attention to the 
necessity of a general assembly of the states, as being the 
only means of successfully meeting the troubles which had 
arisen, and as likely to supersede the necessity of any 
other measure. He moreover impressed upon him that 
a general and unreserved indemnity for the past would 
alone eradicate the distrust, which was the source of all 
existing complaints, and would always counteract the 
good effects of every measure, however well advised. 
He ventured, from a thorough acquaintance with circum- 
stances and accurate knowledge of the character of his 
countrymen, to pledge himself to the king for their 
inviolable loyalty, as soon as they should be convinced of 
the honesty of his intentions by the straightforwardness 
of his proceedings ; while, on the contrary, he assured him 
that there would be no hopes of it as long as they were 
not relieved of the fear of being made the victims of the 
oppression, and sacrificed to the envy of the Spanish 
nobles. At last Montigny 's coadjutor made his appear- 
ance, and the objects of their embassy were made the 
subject of repeated deliberations. 

1566. The king was at that time at his palace at Se- 
govia, where also he assembled his state council. The 
members were : the Duke of Alva ; Don Gomez de 
Figueroa; the Count of Feria; Don Antonio of Toledo, 
Grand Commander of St. John ; Don John Manriquez of 
Lara, Lord Steward to the Queen ; Ruy Gomez, Prince 
of Eboli and Count of Melito ; Louis of Quixada, Master 
of the Horse to the Prince ; Charles Tyssenacque, Presi- 
dent of the Council for the Netherlands ; Hopper, State 
Counsellor and Keeper of the Seal ; and State Counsellor 
Corteville. The sitting of the council was protracted iot 


several days ; both ambassadors were in attendance, but 
the king was not himself present. Here, then, the con- 
duct of the Belgian nobles was examined by Spanish 
eyes ; step by step it was traced back to the most distant 
source; circumstances were brought into relation with 
others which, in reality, never had any connection ; and 
what had been the offspring of the moment was made 
out to be a well-matured and far-sighted plan. All the 
different transactions and attempts of the nobles which 
had been governed solely by chance, and to which the 
natural order of events alone assigned their particular 
shape and succession, were said to be the result of a 
preconcerted scheme for introducing universal liberty in 
religion, and for placing all the power of the state in the 
hands of the nobles. The first step to this end was, it 
was said, the violent expulsion of the minister Granvella, 
against whom nothing could be charged, except that he 
was in possession of an authority which they preferred 
to exercise themselves. The second step was sending 
Count Egmont to Spain to urge the abolition of the 
Inquisition and the mitigation of the penal statutes, and 
to prevail on the king to consent to an augmentation of 
the council of state. As, however, this could not be 
surreptitiously obtained in so quiet a manner, the attempt 
was made to extort it from the court by a third and more 
daring step — by a formal conspiracy, the league of the 
Gueux. The fourth step to the same end was the present 
embassy, which at length boldly cast aside the mask, and 
by the insane proposals which they were not ashamed to 
make to their king, clearly brought to light the object to 
which all the preceding steps had tended. Could the 
abolition of the Inquisition, they exclaimed, lead to any- 
thing less than a complete freedom of belief? Would 
not the guiding helm of conscience be lost with it ? Did 
not the proposed " moderation " introduce an absolute 
impunity for all heresies? What was the project of 
augmenting the council of state and of suppressing the 
two other councils but a complete remodelling of the 
government of the country in favor of the nobles? — a 
general constitution for all the provinces of the Nether- 
lands? Again, what was this compact of the ecclesiastics 


in their public preachings but a third conspiracy, entered 
into with the very same objects which the league of the 
nobles in the council of state and that of the Gueux 
had failed to effect? 

However, it was confessed that whatever might be the 
source of the evil it was not on that account the less im- 
portant and imminent. The immediate personal presence 
of the king in Brussels was, indubitably, the most effica- 
cious means speedily and thoroughly to remedy it. As, 
however, it was already so late in the year, and the prep- 
arations alone for the journey would occupy the short 
time which was to elapse before the winter set in ; as the 
stormy season of the year, as well as the danger from 
French and English ships, which rendered the sea unsafe, 
did not allow of the king's taking the northern route, 
which was the shorter of the two ; as the rebels them- 
selves meanwhile might become possessed of the island 
of Walcheren, and oppose the landing of the king ; for 
all these reasons, the journey was not to be thought of 
before the spring, and in absence of the only complete 
remedy it was necessary to rest satisfied with a partial 
expedient. The council, therefore, agreed to propose to 
the king, in the first place, that he should recall the papal 
Inquisition from the provinces and rest satisfied with that 
of the bishops ; in the second place, that a new plan for 
the mitigation of the edicts should be projected, by which 
the honor of religion and of the king would be better 
preserved than it had been in the transmitted " modera- 
tion ; " thirdly, that in order to reassure the minds of the 
people, and to leave no means untried, the king should 
impart to the regent full powers to extend free grace and 
pardon to all those who had not already committed any 
heinous crime, or who had not as yet been condemned 
by any judicial process ; but from the benefit of this in- 
demnity the preachers and all who harbored them were 
to be excepted. On the other hand, all leagues, associa- 
tions, public assemblies, and preachings were to be hence- 
forth prohibited under heavy penalties ; if, however, this 
prohibition should be infringed, the regent was to be at 
liberty to employ the regular troops and garrisons for the 
forcible reduction of the refractory, and also, in case of 


necessity, to enlist new troops, and to name the com. 
manders over them according as should be deemed 
advisable. Finally, it would have a good effect if his 
majesty would write to the most eminent towns, prelates, 
and leaders of the nobility, to some in his own hand, and 
to all in a gracious tone, in order to stimulate their zeal 
in his service. 

When this resolution of his council of state was sub- 
mitted to the king his first measure was to command 
public processions and prayers in all the most considera- 
ble places of the kingdom and also of the Netherlands, 
imploring the Divine guidance in his decision. He ap- 
peared in his own person in the council of state in order 
to approve this resolution and render it effective. He 
declared the general assembly of the states to be useless 
and entirely abolished it. He, however, bound himself 
to retain some German regiments in his pay, and, that 
they might serve with the more zeal, to pay them their 
long-standing arrears. He commanded the regent in a 
private letter to prepare secretly for war ; three thousand 
horse and ten thousand infantry were to be assembled by 
her in Germany, to which end he furnished her with the 
necessary letters and transmitted to her a sum of three 
hundred thousand gold florins. He also accompanied 
this resolution with several autograph letters to some 
private individuals and towns, in which he thanked them 
in the most gracious terms for the zeal which they had 
already displayed in his service and called upon them to 
manifest the same for the future. Notwithstanding that 
he was inexorable on the most important point, and the 
very one on which the nation most particularly insisted — 
the convocation of the states, notwithstanding that his 
limited and ambiguous pardon was as good as none, and 
depended too much on arbitrary will to calm the public 
mind; notwithstanding, in fine, that he rejected, as too 
lenient, the proposed " moderation," but which, on the 
part of the people, was complained of as too severe ; still 
p^ ^"^d this time made an unwonted step in the favor of 
the nation ; he had sacrificed to it the papal Inquisition 
AVid left only the episcopal, to which it was accustomed. 
The nation had found more equitable judges in the 


Spanish council than they could reasonably have hoped 
for. Whether at another time and under other circum- 
stances this wise concession would have had the desired 
effect we will not pretend to say. It came too late ; 
when (1566) the royal letters reached Brussels the attack 
on images had already commenced. 



Tbte springs of this extraordinary occurrence are 
plainly not to be sought for so far back as many histo- 
rians affect to trace them. It is certainly possible, and 
very probable, that the French Protestants did industri- 
ously exert themselves to raise in the Netherlands a 
nursery for their religion, and to prevent by all means in 
their power an amicable adjustment of differences be- 
tween their brethren in the faith in that quarter and the 
King of Spain, in order to give that implacable foe of 
their party enough to do in his own country. It is nat- 
ural, therefore, to suppose that their agents in the prov- 
inces left nothing undone to encourage their oppressed 
brethren with daring hopes, to nourish their animosity 
against the ruling church, and by exaggerating the op- 
pression under which they sighed to hurry them imper- 
ceptibly into illegal courses. It is possible, too, that 
there were many among the confederates who thought to 
help out their own lost cause by increasing the number 
of their partners in guilt ; who thought they could not 
otherwise maintain the legal character of their league 
unless the unfortunate results against which they had 
warned the king really came to pass, and who hoped in 
the general guilt of all to conceal their own individual 
criminality. It is, however, incredible that the outbreak 
of the Iconoclasts was the fruit of a deliberate plan, pre- 
concerted, as it is alleged, at the convent of St. Truyen. 
It does not seem likely that in a solemn assembly of so 
many nobles and warriors, of whom the greater part 


were the adherents of popery, an individual should be 
found insane enough to propose an act of positive in- 
famy, which did not so much injure any religious party 
in particular, as rather tread under foot all respect for 
religion in general, and even all morality too, and which 
could have been conceived only in the mind of the vilest 
reprobate. Besides, this outrage was too sudden in its 
outbreak, too vehement in its execution altogether, too 
monstrous to have been anything more than the offspring 
of the moment in which it saw the light ; it seemed to 
flow so naturally from the circumstances which preceded 
it that it does not require to be traced far back to re- 
mount to its origin. 

A rude mob, consisting of the very dregs of the pop- 
ulace, made brutal by harsh treatment, by sanguinary 
decrees which dogged them in every town, scared from 
place to place and driven almost to despair, were com- 
pelled to worship their God, and to hide like a w^ork of 
darkness the universal, sacred privilege of humanity. 
Before their eyes proudly rose the temples of the domi- 
nant church, in which their haughty brethren indulged 
in ease their magnificent devotion, while they themselves 
were driven from the walls, expelled, too, by the weaker 
number perhaps, and forced, here in the wild woods, 
under the burning heat of noon, in disgraceful secrecy to 
worship the same God ; cast out from civil society into a 
state of nature, and reminded in one dread moment of 
the rights of that state ! The greater their superiority 
of numbers the more unnatural did their lot appear; 
with wonder they perceive the truth. The free heaven, 
the arms lying ready, the frenzy in their brains and fury 
in their hearts combine to aid the suggestions of some 
preaching fanatic ; the occasion calls ; uo premeditation 
is necessary Avhere all eyes at once declare consent ; the 
resolution is formed ere yet the word is scarcely uttered ; 
ready for any unlawful act, no one yet clearly knows 
what, the furious band rushes onwards. The smiling 
prosperity of the hostile religion insults the poverty of 
their own; the pomp of the authorized temples casts 
contempt on their proscribed belief ; every cross they set 
up upon the highway, every image of the saints that they 


meet, is a trophy erected over their own humiliation, and 
they all must be removed by their avenging hands. 
Fanaticism suggests these detestable proceedings, but 
base passions carry them into execution. 

1566. The commencement of the attack on images took 
place in West Flanders and Artois, in the districts be- 
tween Lys and the sea. A frantic herd of artisans, boat- 
men, and peasants, mixed with prostitutes, beggars, 
vagabonds, and thieves, about three hundred in number, 
furnished with clubs, axes, hammers, ladders, and cords 
(a few only were provided with swords or fire arms), cast 
themselves, with fanatical fury, into the villages and 
hamlets near St. Omer, and breaking open the gates of 
such churches and cloisters as they find locked, overthrow 
everywhere the altars, break to pieces the images of the 
saints, and trample them under foot. With their excite- 
ment increased by its indulgence, and reinforced by new- 
comers, they press on by the direct road to Ypres, where 
they can count on the support of a strong body of Cal- 
vinists. Unopposed, they break into the cathedral, and 
mounting on ladders they hammer to pieces the pictures, 
hew down with axes the pulpits and pews, despoil the 
altars of their ornaments, and steal the holy vessels. This 
example was quickly followed in Menin, Comines, Verrich, 
Lille, and Oudenard ; in a few days the same fury spreads 
through the whole of Flanders. At the very time when 
the first tidings of this occurrence arrived Antwerp was 
swarming with a crowd of houseless people, which the 
feast of the Assumption of the Virgin had brought to- 
gether in that city. Even the presence of the Prince of 
Orange was hardly sufiicient to restrain the licentious 
mob, who burned to imitate the doings of their brethren 
in St. Omer; but an order from the court which sum- 
moned him to Brussels, where the regent was just assem- 
bling her council of state, in order to lay before them the 
royal letters, obliged him to abandon Antwerp to the 
outrages of this band. His departure was the signal for 
tumult. Apprehensive of the lawless violence of which, 
on the very first day of the festival, the mob had given 
indications in derisory allusions, the priests, after carrying 
about the image of the Virgin for a short time, brought it 


for safety to the choir, without, as formerly, setting it ujt 
in the middle of the church. This incited some mischiev- 
ous boys from among the people to pay it a visit there, 
and jokingly inquire why she had so soon absented her- 
self from among them? Others mounting the pulpit, 
mimicked the preacher, and challenged the papists to a 
dispute. A Roman Catholic waterman, indignant at this 
jest, attempted to pull them down, and blows were ex- 
changed in the preacher's seat. Similar scenes occurred 
on the following evening. The numbers increased, and 
many came already provided with suspicious implements 
and secret weapons. At last it came into the head of one 
of them to cry, " Long live the Gueux ! " immediately the 
whole band took up the cry, and the image of the Virgin 
was called upon to do the same. The few Roman Cath- 
olics who were present, and who had given up the hope of 
effecting anything against these desperadoes, left the 
church after locking all the doors except one. So soon 
as they found themselves alone it was proposed to sing 
one of the psalms in the new version, which was prohib- 
ited by the government. While they were yet singing 
they all, as at a given signal, rushed furiously upon the 
image of the Virgin, piercing it with swords and daggers, 
and striking off its head ; thieves and prostitutes tore the 
great wax-lights from the altar, and lighted them to the 
work. The beautiful organ of the church, a masterpiece 
of the art of that period, was broken to pieces, all the 
paintings were effaced, the statues smashed to atoms. A 
crucifix, the size of life, which was set up between the 
two thieves, opposite the high altar, an ancient and highly 
valued piece of workmanship, was pulled to the ground 
with cords, and cut to pieces with axes, while the two 
malefactors at its side were respectfully spared. The holy 
wafers were strewed on the ground and trodden under 
foot ; in the wine used for the Lord's Supper, which was 
accidentally found there, the health of the Gueux was 
drunk, while with the holy oil they rubbed their shoes. 
The very tombs were opened, and the half-decayed corpses 
torn up and trampled on. All this was done with as much 
wonderful regularity as if each had previously had his 
part assigned to him; every one worked into his neigh* 


bor's hands ; no one, dangerous as the work was, met with 
injury ; in the midst of thick darkness, which the tapers 
only served to render more sensible, with heavy masses 
falling on all sides, and though on the very topmost steps 
of the ladders, they scuffled with each other for the hon- 
ors of demolition — yet no one suffered the least injury. 
In spite of the many tapers which lighted them below in 
their villanous work not a single individual was recog- 
nized. With incredible rapidity was the dark deed ac- 
complished ; a number of men, at most a hundred, de- 
spoiled in a few hours a temple of seventy altars — after 
St. Peter's at Rome, perhaps the largest and most mag- 
nificent in Christendom. 

The devastation of the cathedral did not content them ; 
with torches and tapers purloined from it they set out at 
midnight to perform a similar work of havoc on the 
remaining churches, cloisters, and chapels. The destruc- 
tive hordes increased with every fresh exploit of infamy, 
and thieves were allured by the opportunity. They car- 
ried away whatever they found of value — the consecrated 
vessels, altar-cloths, money, and vestments ; in the cellars 
of the cloisters they drank to intoxication ; to escape 
greater indignities the monks and nuns abandoned every- 
thing to them. The confused noises of these riotous acts 
had startled the citizens from their first sleep ; but night 
made the danger appear more alarming than it really was, 
and instead of hastening to defend their churches the 
citizens fortified themselves in their houses, and in terror 
and anxiety awaited the dawn of morning. The rising sun 
at length revealed the devastation which had been going 
on during the night ; but the havoc did not terminate 
with the darkness. Some churches and cloisters still 
remained uninjured ; the same fate soon overtook them 
also. The work of destruction lasted three whole days. 
Alarmed at last lest the frantic mob, when it could no 
longer find anything sacred to destroy, should make a 
similar attack on lay property and plunder their ware- 
houses ; and encouraged, too, by discovering how small 
was the number of the depredators, the wealthier citizens 
ventured to show themselves in arms at the doors of their 
houses. All the gates of the town were locked but one, 


through which the Iconoclasts broke forth to renew the 
same atrocities in the rural districts. On one occasion 
only during all this time did the municipal officers ven- 
ture to exert their authority, so strongly were they held 
in awe by the superior powder of the Calvinists, by whom, 
as it was believed, this mob of miscreants was hired. 
The injury inflicted by this work of devastation was 
incalculable. In the church of the Virg^in it was esti- 
mated at not less than four hundred thousand gold 
florins. Many precious works of art were destroyed; 
many valuable manuscripts ; many monuments of impor^ 
tance to history and to diplomacy were thereby lost. 
The city magistrate ordered the plundered articles to be 
restored on pain of death ; in enforcing this restitution 
he was effectually assisted by the preachers of the 
Reformers, who blushed for their followers. Much was 
in this manner recovered, and the ringleaders of the mob, 
less animated, perhaps, by the desire of plunder than by 
fanaticism and revenge, or perhaps being ruled by some 
unseen head, resolved for the future to guard against 
these excesses, and to make their attacks in regular bands 
and in better order. 

The town of Ghent, meanwhile, trembled for a like 
destiny. Immediately on the first news of the out- 
break of the Iconoclasts in Antwerp the magistrate 
of the former town with the most eminent citizens had 
bound themselves to repel by force the church spoilers ; 
when this oath was proposed to the commonalty also the 
voices were divided, and many declared openly that they 
were by no means disposed to hinder so devout a work. 
In this state of affairs the Roman Catholic clergy found 
it advisable to deposit in the citadel the most precious 
movables of their churches, and private families were 
permitted in like manner to provide for the safety of 
offerings which had been made by their ancestors. Meart 
while all the services were discontinued, the courts of 
justice were closed ; and, like a town in momentary 
danger of being stormed by the enemy, men trembled in 
expectation of what was to come. At last an insane 
band of rioters ventured to send delegates to the 
governor with this impudent message : " They were 


ordered," they said, "by their chiefs to take the images 
out of the churches, as had been done in the other towns. 
If they were not opposed it should be done quietly and 
with as little injury as possible, but otherwise they would 
storm the churches ; " nay, they went so far in their 
audacity as to ask the aid of the officers of justice therein. 
At first the magistrate was astounded at this demand ; 
upon reflection, however, and in the hope that the pres- 
ence of the officers of law would perhaps restrain their 
excesses, he did not scruple to grant their request. 

In Tournay the churches were despoiled of their orna- 
ments within sight of the garrison, who could not be 
induced to march against the Iconoclasts. As the latter 
had been told that the gold and silver vessels and other 
ornaments of the church were buried underground, they 
turned up the whole floor, and exposed, among others, the 
body of the Duke Adolph of Gueldres, who fell in battle 
at the head of the rebellious burghers of Ghent, and had 
been buried here in Tournay. This Adolph had waged war 
against his father, and had dragged the vanquished old 
man some miles barefoot to prison — an indignity which 
Charles the Bold afterwards retaliated on him. And 
now, again, after more than half a century fate avenged 
a crime against nature by another against religion ; fanati- 
cism was to desecrate that which was holy in order to 
expose once more to execration the bones of a parricide. 
Other Iconoclasts from Valenciennes united themselves 
with those of Tournay to despoil all the cloisters of the 
surrounding district, during which a valuable library, the 
accumulation of centuries, was destroyed by fire. The 
evil soon penetrated into Brabant, also Malines, Herzo- 
genbusch, Breda, and Bergen-op-Zoom experienced the 
same fate. The provinces, Namur and Luxemburg, with 
a part of Artois and of Hainault, had alone the good 
fortune to escape the contagion of those outrages. In 
the short period of four or five days four hundred clois- 
ters were plundered in Brabant and Flanders alone. 

The northern Netherlands were soon seized with the 
same mania which had raged so violently through the 
southern. The Dutch towns, Amsterdam, Leyden, and 
Gravenhaag, had the alternative of either voluntarily 


stripping their churches of their ornaments, or of seeing 
them violently torn from them; the determination of 
their magistrates saved Delft, Haarlem, Gouda, and 
Rotterdam from the devastation. The same acts of 
violence were practised also in the islands of Zealand ; 
the town of Utrecht and many places in Overyssel and 
Groningen suffered the same storms. Friesland was pro- 
tected by the Count of Aremberg, and Gueldres by the 
Count of Meojen from a like fate. 

An exaggerated report of these disturbances which 
came in from the provinces spread the alarm to Brussels, 
where the regent had just made preparations for an ex- 
traordinary session of the council of state. Swarms of 
Iconoclasts already penetrated into Brabant ; and the 
metropolis, where they were certain of powerful support, 
was threatened by them with a renewal of the same 
atrocities then under the very eyes of majesty. The 
regent, in fear for her personal safety, which, even in the 
heart of the country, surrounded by provincial governors 
and Knights of the Fleece, she fancied insecure, was 
already meditating a flight to Mons, in Hainault, which 
town the Duke of Arschot held for her as a place of ref- 
uge, that she might not be driven to any undignified con- 
cession by falling into the power of the Iconoclasts. In 
vain did the knights pledge life and blood for her safety, 
and urgently beseech her not to expose them to disgrace 
by so dishonorable a flight, as though they were wanting 
in courage or zeal to protect their princess ; to no purpose 
did the town of Brussels itself supplicate her not to 
abandon them in this extremity, and vainly did the 
council of state make the most impressive representations 
that so pusillanimous a step would not fail to encourage 
still more the insolence of the rebels ; she remained im- 
movable in this desperate condition. As messenger 
after messensrer arrived to Avarn her that the Iconoclasts 
were advancing against the metropolis, she issued orders 
to hold everything in readiness for her flight, which was 
to take place quietly with the first approach of morning. 
At break of day the aged Viglius presented himself 
before her, whom, with the view of gratifying the nobles, 
she had been long accustomed to neglect. He demanded 


to know the meaning of the preparations he observed, 
upon which she at last confessed that she intended to 
make her escape, and assured him that he would himself 
do well to secure his own safety by accompanying her. 
"It is now two years," said the old man to her, "that 
you might have anticij^ated these results. Because I 
have spoken more freely than your courtiers you have 
closed your princely ear to me, which has been open 
only to pernicious suggestions." The regent allowed 
that she had been in fault, and had been blinded by an 
appearance of probity ; but that she was now driven by 
necessity. "Are you resolved," answered Viglius, "res- 
olutely to insist upon obedience to the royal commands?" 
" I am," answered the duchess. " Then have recourse to 
the great secret of the art of government, to dissimula- 
tion, and pretend to join the princes until, with their 
assistance, you have repelled this storm. Show them a 
confidence which you are far from feeling in your heart. 
Make them take an oath to you that they will make com- 
mon cause in resisting these disorders. Trust those as 
your friends who show themselves willing to do it ; but 
be careful to avoid frightening away the others by con- 
temptuous treatment." Viglius kept the regent engaged 
in conversation until the princes arrived, who he was 
quite certain would in nowise consent to her flight. 
When they appeared he quietly withdrew in order to 
issue commands to the town council to close the gates of 
the city and prohibit egress to every one connected with 
the court. This last measure effected more than all the 
representations had done. The regent, who saw herself 
a prisoner in her own capital, now yielded to the per- 
suasions of the nobles, who pledged themselves to stand 
by her to the last drop of blood. She made Count 
Mansfeld commandant of the town, who hastily increased 
the garrison and armed her whole court. 

The state council was now held, who finally came to a 
resolution that it was expedient to yield to the emer- 
gency; to permit the preachings in those places where 
they had already commenced ; to make known the aboli- 
tion of the papal Inquisition ; to declare the old edicts 
against the heretics repealed, and before all things to 

13 — Schiller Vol. VII. 


grant the required indemnity to the confederate nobles, 
without limitation or condition. At the same time the 
Prince of Orange, Counts Egmont and Horn, with some 
others, were appointed to confer on this head with the 
deputies of the league* Solemnly and in the most une- 
quivocal terms the members of the league were declared 
free from all responsibility by reason of the petition 
which had been presented, and all royal officers and au- 
thorities were enjoined to act in conformity with this 
assurance, and neither now nor for the future to inflict 
any injury upon any of the confederates on account 
of the said petition. In return, the confederates bound 
themselves to be true and loyal servants of his majesty, 
to contribute to the utmost of their power to the re-es- 
tablishment of order and the punishment of the Icono- 
clasts, to prevail on the people to lay down their arms, 
and to afford active assistance to the king against inter- 
nal and foreign enemies. Securities, formally drawn up 
and subscribed by the plenipotentiaries of both sides, 
were exchanged between them ; the letter of indemnity, 
in particular, was signed by the duchess with her own 
hand and attested by her seal. It was only after a severe 
struggle, and with tears in her eyes, that the regent, as 
she tremblingly confessed to the king, was at last induced 
to consent to this painful step. She threw the whole 
blame upon tho nobles, who had kept her a prisoner in 
Brussels and compelled her to it by force. Above all she 
complained bitterly of the Prince of Orange. 

This business accomplished, all the governors hastened to 
their provinces ; Egmont to Flanders, Orange to Antwerp. 
In the latter city the Protestants had seized the despoiled 
and plundered churches, and, as if by the rights of war, 
had taken possession of them. The prince restored them 
to their lawful owners, gave orders for their repair, and 
re-established in them the Roman Catholic form of wor- 
ship. Three of the Iconoclasts, who had been convicted, 
paid the penalty of their sacrilege on the gallows ; some 
of the rioters were banished, and many others underwent 
punishment. Afterwards he assembled four deputies of 
each dialect, or nations, as they were termed, and agreed 
with them that, as the approaching winter made preach- 


mg in the open air impossible, three places within the 
town should be granted them, where they might either 
erect new churches, or convert private houses to that 
purpose. That they should there perform their service 
every Sunday and holiday, and always at the same hour, 
but on no other days. If, however, no holiday happened 
in the week, Wednesday should be kept by them instead. 
No religious party should maintain more than two clergy- 
men, and these must be native Netherlanders, or at least 
have received naturalization from some considerable town 
of the provinces. All should take an oath to submit in 
civil matters to the municipal authorities and the Prince 
of Orange. They should be liable, like the other citizens, 
to all imposts. No one should attend sermons armed ; a 
sword, however, should be allowed to each. No preacher 
should assail the ruling religion from the pulpit, nor enter 
upon controverted points, beyond what the doctrine itself 
rendered unavoidable, or what might refer to morals. No 
psalm should be sung by them out of their appointed 
district. At the election of their preachers, churchward- 
ens, and deacons, as also at all their other consistorial 
meetings, a person from the government should on each 
occasion be present to report their proceedings to the 
prince and the magistrate. As to all other points they 
should enjoy the same protection as the ruling religion. 
This arrangement was to hold good until the king, with 
consent of the states, should determine otherwise ; but 
then it should be free to every one to quit the coun- 
try with his family and his property. From Antwerp 
the prince hastened to Holland, Zealand, and Utrecht, 
in order to make there similar arrangements for the res- 
toration of peace ; Antwerp, however, was, during his 
absence, entrusted to the superintendence of Count Hog- 
straten, who was a mild man, and although an adherent 
of the league, had never failed in loyalty to the king. It 
is evident that in this agreement the prince had far over- 
stepped the powers entrusted to him, and though in the 
service of the king had acted exactly like a sovereign 
lord. But he alleged in excuse that it would be far 
easier to the magistrate to watch these numerous and 
powerful sects if he himself interfered in their worship, 


and if this took place under his eyes, than if he were 
to leave the sectarians to themselves in the open air. 

In Gueldres Count Megen showed more severity, and 
entirely suppressed the Protestant sects and banished all 
their preachers. In Brussels the regent availed herself 
of the advantage derived from her personal presence to 
put a stop to the public preaching, even outside the town. 
When, in reference to this. Count Nassau reminded her 
in the name of the confederates of the compact which 
had been entered into, and demanded if the town of 
Brussels had inferior rights to the other towns ? she an- 
swered, if there were public preachings in Brussels before 
the treaty, it was not her work if they were now discon- 
tinued. At the same time, however, she secretly gave 
the citizens to understand that the first who should ven- 
ture to attend a public sermon should certainly be hung. 
Thus she kept the capital at least faithful to her. 

It was more difficult to quiet Tournay, which office was 
committed to Count Horn, in the place of Montigny, to 
whose government the town properly belonged. Horn 
commanded the Protestants to vacate the churches im- 
mediately, and to content themselves with a house of 
worship outside the walls. To this their preachers ob- 
jected that the churches were erected for the use of the 
people, by which term, they said, not the heads but the 
majority were meant. If they were expelled from the 
Roman Catholic churches it was at least fair that they 
should be furnished with money for erecting churches of 
their own. To this the magistrate replied even if the 
Catholic party was the weaker it was indisputably the 
better. The erection of churches should not be forbidden 
them ; they could not, however, after the injury which 
the town had already suffered from their brethren, the 
Iconoclasts, very well expect that it should be further 
burdened by the erection of their churches. After long 
quarrelling on both sides, the Protestants contrived to 
retain possession of some churches, which, for greater 
security, they occupied with guards. In Valenciennes, 
too, the Protestants refused submission to the conditions 
which were offered to them through Philip St. Alde- 
gonde, Baron of Noircarmes, to whom, in the absence of 



the Marquis of Bergen, the government of that place was 
entrusted. A reformed preacher, La Grange, a Frenchman 
by birth, who by his eloquence had gained a complete 
command over them, urged them to insist on having 
churches of their own within the town, and to threaten 
in case of refusal to deliver it up to the Huguenots. A 
sense of the superior numbers of the Calvinists, and of 
their understanding with the Huguenots, prevented the 
governor adopting forcible measures against them. 

Count Egmont, also to manifest his zeal for the king's 
service, did violence to his natural kind-heartedness. In- 
troducing a garrison into the town of Ghent, he caused 
some of the most refractory rebels to be put to death. 
The churches were reopened, the Roman Catholic worship 
renewed, and all foreigners, without exception, ordered to 
quit the province. To the Calvinists, but to them alone, 
a site was granted outside the town for the erection of a 
church. In return they were compelled to pledge them- 
selves to the most rigid obedience to the municipal 
authorities, and to active co-operation in the proceedings 
against the Iconoclasts. He pursued similar measures 
through all Flanders and Artois. One of his noblemen, 
John Cassembrot, Baron of Beckerzeel, and a leaguer, 
pursuing the Iconoclasts at the head of some horsemen 
of the league, surprised a band of them just as they 
were about to break into a town of Hainault, near Gram- 
mont, in Flanders, and took thirty of them prisoners, of 
whom twenty-two were hung upon the spot, and the rest 
whipped out of the province. 

Services of such importance one would have thought 
scarcely deserved to be rewarded with the displeasure of 
the king ; what Orange, Egmont, and Horn performed on 
this occasion evinced at least as much zeal and had as 
beneficial a result as anything that was accomplished by 
Noircarmes, Megen, and Aremberg, to whom the king 
vouchsafed to show his gratitude both by words and 
deeds. But their zeal, their services came too late. They 
had spoken too loudly against his edicts, had been too 
vehement in their opposition to his measures, had insulted 
him too grossly in the person of his minister Granvella, 
to leave room for forgiveness. No time, no repentance, 


no atonement, however great, could efface this one offence 
from the memory of then* sovereign. 

Philip lay sick at Segovia when the news of the out- 
break of the Iconoclasts and the uncatholic agreement 
entered into with the Reformers reached him. At the 
same time the regent renewed her urgent entreaty for his 
personal visit, of which also all the letters treated, which 
the President Viglius exchanged with his friend Hopper. 
Many also of the Belgian nobles addressed special letters 
to the king, as, for instance, Egmont, Mansfeld, Megen, 
Aremberg, Noircarmes, and Barlaimont, in which they 
reported the state of their provinces, and at once explained 
and justified the arrangements they had made with the 
disaffected. Just at this period a letter arrived from the 
German Emperor, in which he recommended Philip to act 
with clemency towards his Belgian subjects, and offered 
his mediation in the matter. He had also written direct 
to the regent herself in Brussels, and added letters to the 
several leaders of the nobility, which, hoAvever, were 
never delivered. Having conquered the first anger which 
this hateful occurrence had excited, the king referred the 
whole matter to his council. 

The party of Granvella, which had the preponderance 
in the council, was diligent in tracing a close connection 
between the behavior of the Flemish nobles and the ex- 
cesses of the church desecrators, which showed itself in 
similarity of the demands of both parties, and especially 
the time which the latter chose for their outbreak. In 
the same month, they observ^ed, in which the nobles had 
sent in their three articles of pacification, the Iconoclasts 
had commenced their work ; on the evening of the very 
day that Orange quitted Antwerp the churches too were 
plundered. During the whole tumult not a finger was 
lifted to take up arms ; all the expedients employed were 
invariably such as turned to the advantage of the sects, 
while, on the contrary, all others were neglected which 
tended to the maintenance of the pure faith. Many of 
the Iconoclasts, it was further said, had confessed that all 
that they had done was with the knowledge and consent 
of the princes ; though surely nothing was more natural, 
than for such worthless wretches to seek to screen with 


great names a crime which they had undertaken solely 
on their own account. A writing also was produced in 
which the high nobility were made to promise their 
services to the " Gueux," to procure the assembly of the 
states general, the genuineness of which, however, the 
former strenuously denied. Four different seditious 
parties were, they said, to be noticed in the Netherlands, 
which were all more or less connected with one another, 
and all worked towards a common end. One of these 
was those bands of reprobates who desecrated the churches ; 
a second consisted of the various sects who had hired the 
former to perform their infamous acts ; the " Gueux," 
who had raised themselves to be the defenders of the 
sects were the third ; and the leading nobles who were 
inclined to the " Gueux " by feudal connections, relation- 
ship, and friendship, composed the fourth. All, conse- 
quently, were alike fatally infected, and all equally guilty. 
The government had not merely to guard against a few 
isolated members ; it had to contend with the whole 
body. Since, then, it was ascertained that the people 
were the seduced party, and the encouragement to re- 
bellion came from higher quarters, it would be wise and 
expedient to alter the plan hitherto adopted, which now 
appeared defective in several respects. Inasmuch as all 
classes had been oppressed without distinction, and as 
much of severity shown to the lower orders as of contempt 
to the nobles, both had been compelled to lend support to one 
another ; a party had been given to the latter and leaders 
to the former. Unequal treatment seemed an infallible 
expedient to separate them ; the mob, always timid and 
indolent when not goaded by the extremity of distress, 
would very soon desert its adored protectors and quickly 
learn to see in their fate well-merited retribution if only 
it was not driven to share it with them. It was therefore 
proposed to the king to treat the great multitude for the 
future with more leniency, and to direct all measures of 
severity against the leaders of the faction. In order, 
however, to avoid the appearance of a disgraceful con- 
eesiaiou. it was coiBsidered advisable to accept the media- 
jion of the Emperor, and to impute to it alone and not to 
the justice of their demands, that the king out of pure 


generosity had granted to his Belgian subjects as mucli 
as they asked. 

The question of the king's personal visit to the prov- 
inces was now again mooted, and all the difficulties which 
had formerly been raised on this head appeared to vanish 
before the present emergency. " Now," said Tyssen- 
acque and Hopper, "the juncture has really arrived at 
which the king, according to his own declaration formerly 
made to Count Egmont, will be ready to risk a thousand 
lives. To restore quiet to Ghent Charles V. had under- 
taken a troublesome and dangerous journey through an 
enemy's country. This was done for the sake of a single 
town ; and now the peace, perhaps even the possession, 
of all the United Provinces was at stake." This was 
the opinion of the majority ; and the journey of the king 
was looked upon as a matter from which he could not 
possibly any longer escape. 

The question now was, whether he should enter upon 
it with a numerous body of attendants or with few ; and 
here the Prince of Eboli and Count Figueroa were at 
issue with the Duke of Alva, as their private interests 
clashed. If the king journeyed at the head of an army 
the presence of the Duke of Alva would be indispensable, 
who, on the other hand, if matters were peaceably ad- 
justed, would be less required, and must make room for 
his rivals. "An army," said Figueroa, who spoke first, 
" would alarm the princes through whose territories it 
must march, and perhaps even be opposed by them ; it 
would, moreover, unnecessarily burden the provinces for 
whose tranquillization it was intended, and add a new 
grievance to the many which had already driven the 
people to such lengths. It would press indiscriminately 
upon all of the king's subjects, whereas a court of justice, 
peaceably administering its office, would observe a marked 
distinction between the innocent and the guilty. The 
unwonted violence of the former course would tempt the 
leaders of the faction to take a more alarming view of 
their behavior, in which wantonness and levity had the 
chief share, and consequently induce them to proceed 
with deliberation and union ; the thought of having forced 
the king to such lengths would plunge them into despair, 


in which they would be ready to undertake anything. If 
the king placed himself in arms against the rebels he would 
forfeit the most important advantage which he possessed 
over them, namely, his authority as sovereign of the 
country, which would prove the more powerful in pro- 
portion as he showed his reliance upon that alone. He 
would place himself thereby, as it were, on a level with 
the rebels, who on their side would not be at a loss to 
raise an army, as the universal hatred of the Spanish 
forces would operate in their favor with the nation. By 
this procedure the king would exchange the certain ad- 
vantage which his position as sovereign of the country 
conferred upon him for the uncertain result of military 
operations, which, result as they might, would of necessity 
destroy a portion of his own subjects. The rumor of his 
hostile approach would outrun him time enough to allow 
all who were conscious of a bad cause to place themselves 
in a posture of defence, and to combine and render avail- 
ing both their foreign and domestic resources. Here 
again the general alarm would do them important service ; 
the uncertainty who would be the first object of this 
warlike approach would drive even the less guilty to the 
general mass of the rebels, and force those to become 
enemies to the king who otherwise would never have been 
so. If, however, he was coming among them without 
such a formidable accompaniment ; if his appearance was 
less that of a sanguinary judge than of an angry parent, 
the courage of all good men would rise, and the bad 
would perish in their own security. They would per- 
suade themselves what had happened was unimportant ; 
that it did not appear to the king of sufficient moment to 
call for strong measures. They wished if they could to 
avoid the chance of ruining, by acts of open violence, a 
cause which might perhaps yet be saved ; consequently, 
by this quiet, peaceable method everything would be 
gained which by the other would be irretrievably lost ; 
the loyal subject would in no degree be involved in the 
same punishment with the culpable rebel; on the latter 
alone would the whole weight of the royal indignation 
descend. Lastly, the enormous expenses would be avoided 
which the transport of a Spanish army to those distant 
regions would occasion. 


" But," began the Duke of Alva, " ought the injury of 
some few citizens to be considered when danger impends 
over the whole ? Because a few of the loyally-disposed 
may suffer wrong are the rebels therefore not to be 
chastised ? The offence has been universal, why then 
should not the punishment be the same ? What the 
rebels have incurred by their actions the rest have in- 
curred equally by their supineness. Whose fault is it 
but theirs that the former have so far succeeded ? Why 
did they not promj^tly oppose their first attempts ? It is 
said that circumstances were not so desperate as to jus- 
tify this violent remedy ; but Avho will insure us that 
they will not be so by the time the king arrives, especi- 
ally when, according to every fresh despatch of the re- 
gent, all is liastening with rapid strides to a ruinous con- 
summation ? Is it a hazard we ought to run to leave the 
king to discover on his entrance into the provinces the 
necessity of his having brought with him a military force ? 
It is a fact only too well-established that the rebels have 
secured foreign succors, which stand ready at their com- 
mand on the first signal ; will it then be time to think of 
preparing for war when the enemy pass the frontiers? 
Is it a wise risk to rely for aid upon the nearest Belgian 
troops when their loyalty is so little to be depended upon ? 
And is not the regent perpetually reverting in her des- 
patches to the fact that nothing but the want of a suitable 
militarv force has hitherto hindered her from enforcinsf 
the edicts, and stopping the progress of the rebels ? A 
well-disciplined and formidable army alone will disap- 
point all their hopes of maintaining themselves in oppo- 
sition to their lawful sovereio-n, and nothinsf but the cer- 
tain prospect of destruction will make them lower their 
demands. Besides, without an adequate force, the king 
cannot venture his person in hostile countries ; he cannot 
enter into any treaties with his rebellious subjects which 
would not be derogatory to his honor." 

The authority of the speaker gave preponderance to 
his arguments, and the next question was, when the king 
should commence his journey and what road he should 
take. As the voyage by sea was on every account ex- 
tremely hazardous, he had no other alternative but either 


to proceed thither through the passes near Trent across 
Germany, or to penetrate from Savoy over the Apennine 
Alps. The first route would expose him to the danger 
of the attack of the German Protestants, who were not 
likely to view with indifference the objects of his journey, 
and a passage over the Apennines was at this late season 
of the year not to be attempted. Moreover, it would 
be necessary to send for the requisite galleys from Italy, 
and repair them, which would take several months. Fi- 
nally, as the assembly of the Cortes of Castile, from which 
he could not well be absent, was already appointed for 
December, the journey could not be undertaken before 
the spring. Meanwhile the regent pressed for explicit 
instructions how she was to extricate herself from her 
present embarrassment, without compromising the royal 
dignity too far ; and it was necessary to do something in 
the interval till the king could undertake to appease the 
troubles by his personal presence. Two separate letters 
were therefore despatched to the duchess ; one public, 
which she could lay before the states and the council 
chambers, and one private, which was intended for her- 
self alone. In the first, the king announced to her his 
restoration to health, and the fortunate birth of the In- 
fanta Clara Isabella Eugenia, afterwards wife of the 
Archduke Albert of Austria and Princess of the Nether- 
lands. He declared to her his present firm intention to 
visit the Netherlands in person, for which he was already 
making the necessary preparations. The assembling of 
the states he refused, as he had previously done. No men- 
tion was made in this letter of the agreement which she 
had entered into with the Protestants and with the 
league, because he did not deem it advisable at present 
absolutely to reject it, and he was still less disposed to 
acknowledge its validity. On the other hand, he ordered 
her to reinforce the army, to draw together new regi- 
ments from Germany, and to meet the refractory with 
force. For the rest, he concluded, he relied upon the 
loyalty of the leading nobility, among whom he knew 
many who were sincere in their attachment both to their 
religion and their king. In the secret letter she was 
again enjoined to do all in her power to prevent the 


assembling of the states ; but if the general voice should 
become irresistible, and she was compelled to yield, she 
was at least to manage so cautiously that the royal dig- 
nity should not suffer, and no one learn the king's consent 
to their assembly. 

While these consultations were held in Spain the Prot- 
estants in the Netherlands made the most extensive use 
of the privileges which had been compulsorily granted to 
them. The erection of churches wherever it was per- 
mitted was completed with incredible rapidity ; young 
and old, gentle and simple, assisted in carrying stones ; 
women sacrificed even their ornaments in order to accele- 
rate the work. The two religious parties established in 
several towns consistories, and a church council of their 
own, the first move of the kind being made in Antwerp, 
and placed their form of worship on a well-regulated 
footing. It was also proposed to raise a common fund 
by subscription to meet any sudden emergency of the 
Protestant church in general. In Antwerp a memorial 
was presented by the Calvinists of that town to the 
Count of Hogstraten, in which they offered to pay three 
millions of dollars to secure the free exercise of their 
religion. Many copies of this writing were circulated 
in the l!^etherlands ; and in order to stimulate others, 
many had ostentatiously subscribed their names to large 
sums. Various interpretations of this extravagant offer 
were made by the enemies of the Reformers, and all had 
some appearance of reason. For instance, it was urged 
that under the pretext of collecting the requisite sum for 
fulfilling this engagement they hoped, without suspicion, 
to raise funds for military purposes ; for whether they 
should be called upon to contribute for or against they 
would, it was thought, be more ready to burden them- 
selves with a view of preserving peace than for an oppress- 
ive and devasting war. Others saw in this offer nothing 
more than a temporary stratagem of the Protestants by 
which they hoped to bind the court and keep it irresolute 
until they should have gained sufficient strength to con- 
front it. Others asrain declared it to be a downris^ht 
bravado in order to alarm the regent, and to raise the 
courage of their own party by the display of such rich 


resources. But whatever was the true motive of this 
proposition, its originators gained little by it ; the con- 
tributions flowed in scantily and slowly, and the court 
answered the propos^al with silent contempt. The ex- 
cesses, too, of the Iconocl&«ts, far from promoting the 
cause of the league and advancing the Protestants' inter- 
ests, had done irreparable injury to both. The sight of 
their ruined churches, which, in the language of Viglius, 
resembled stables more than houses of God, enraged the 
Roman Catholics, and above all the clergy. All of that 
religion, who had hitherto been members of the league, 
now forsook it, alleging that even if it had not intention- 
ally excited and encouraged the excesses of the Icono- 
clasts it had beyond question remotely led to them. The 
intolerance of the Calvinists who, wherever tbey were 
the ruling party, cruelly oppressed the Roman Catholics, 
completely expelled the delusion in which the latter had 
long indulged, and they withdrew their support from a 
party from which, if they obtained the upper hand, their 
own religion had so much cause to fear. Thus the 
league lost many of its best members ; the friends and 
patrons, too, which it had hitherto found amongst the well- 
disposed citizens now deserted it, and its character began 
perceptibly to decline. The severity with which some of 
its members had acted against the Iconoclasts in order to 
prove their good disposition towards the regent, and to 
remove the suspicion of any connection with the malcon- 
tents, had also injured them with the people who favored 
the latter, and thus the league was in danger of ruining 
itself with both parties at the same time. 

The regent had no sooner became acquainted with this 
change in the public mind than she devised a plan by 
which she hoped gradually to dissolve the whole league, 
or at least to enfeeble it through internal dissensions. 
For this end she availed herself of the private letters 
which the king had addressed to some of the nobles, and 
enclosed to her with full liberty to use them at her dis- 
cretion. These letters, which overflowed with kind expres- 
sions were presented to those for whom they were intended, 
with an attempt at secrecy, which designedly miscarried, 
SO that on each occasion some one or other of those wha 


had received nothing of the sort got a hint of them. I?j 
order to spread suspicion the more widely numerous 
copies of the letters were circulated. This artifice attained 
its object. Many members of the league began to doubt 
the honesty of those to whom such brilliant promises 
were made ; through fear of being deserted by their 
principal members and supporters, they eagerly accepted 
the conditions which were offered them by the regent, 
and evinced great anxiety for a speedy reconciliation 
with the court. The general rumor of the impending 
visit of the king, w^hich the regent took care to have 
widely circulated, was also of great service to her in this 
matter ; many who could not augur much good to them- 
selves from the royal presence did not hesitate to accept 
a pardon, which, perhaps, for what they could tell, was 
offered them for the last time. Among those who thus 
received private letters were Egmont and Prince of 
Orange. Both had complained to the king of the evil 
reports with which designing persons in Spain had labored 
to brand their names, and to throw suspicion on their 
motives and intentions ; Egmont, in particular, with the 
honest simplicity which was peculiar to his character, had 
asked the monarch only to point out to him w^hat he most 
desired, to determine the particular action by which his 
favor could be best obtained and zeal in his service 
evinced, and it should, he assured him, be done. The 
king in reply caused the pi'esident. Von Tyssenacque, to 
tell him that he could do nothing better to refute his 
traducers than to show perfect submission to the royal 
orders, which were so clearly and precisely drawn up, 
that no further exposition of them was required, nor any 
particular instruction. It was the sovereign's part to 
deliberate, to examine, and to decide ; unconditionally to 
obey was the duty of the subject ; the honor of the latter 
consisted in his obedence. It did not become a member 
to hold itself wiser than the head. He was assuredly to be 
blamed for not having done his utmost to curb the unruli- 
ness of his sectarians ; but it was even yet in his power 
to make up for past negligence by at least maintaining 
peace and order until the actual arrival of the king. In 
thus punishing Count Egmont with reproofs like a dis* 


obedient child, the king treated him in accordance with 
what he knew of his character ; with his friend he found 
it necessary to call in the aid of artifice and deceit. 
Orange, too, in his letter, had alluded to the suspicions 
which the king entertained of his loyalty and attach- 
ment, but not, like Egmont, in tlie vain hope of removing 
them ; for this he had long given up ; but in order to 
pass from these complaints to a request for permission to 
resign his offices. He had already frequently made this 
request to the regent, but had always received from her 
a refusal, accompanied with the strongest assurance of 
her regard. The king also, to whom he now at last 
addressed a direct application, returned him the same 
answer, graced with similar strong assurances of his 
satisfaction and gratitude. In particular he expressed 
the higrh satisfaction he entertained of his services, which 
he had lately rendered the crown in Antwerp, and 
lamented deeply that the private affairs of the prince 
(which the latter had made his chief plea for demanding 
his dismissal) should have fallen into such disorder ; but 
ended with the declaration that it was impossible for him 
to dispense with his valuable services at a crisis which 
demanded the increase, rather than diminution, of his 
good and honest servants. He had thought, he added, 
that the prince entertained a better opinion of him than 
to suppose him capable of giving credit to the idle talk 
of certain persons, who were friends neither to the prince 
nor to himself. But, at the same time, to give him a 
proof of his sincerity, he complained to him in confi- 
dence of his brother, the Count of Nassau, pretended to 
ask his advice in the matter, and finally expressed a wish 
to have the count removed for a period from the Nether= 

But Philip had here to do with a head which in cun- 
ning was superior to his own. The Prince of Orange 
had for a long time held watch over him and his privy 
council in Madrid and Segovia, through a host of spies, 
who reported to him everything of importance that was 
transacted there. The court of this most secret of all 
despots had become accessible to his intriguing spirit and 
his money ; in this manner he had gained possession of 


several autograph letters of the regent, which she had 
secretly written to Madrid, and had caused copies to be 
circulated in triumph in Brussels, and in a measure under 
her own eyes, insomuch that she saw with astonishment 
in everybody's hands what she thought was preserved 
with so much care, and entreated the king for the future 
to destroy her despatches immediately they were read. 
William's vigilance did not confine itself sim})ly to the 
court of Spain ; he had spies in France, and even at more 
distant courts. He is also charged with not being over- 
scrupulous as to the means by which he acquired his 
intelligence. But the most important disclosure was 
made by an intercepted letter of the Spanish ambassador 
in France, Francis Von Alava, to the duchess, in which 
the former descanted on the fair opportunity which was 
now afforded to the king, through the guilt of the Neth- 
erlandish people, of establishing an arbitrary power in 
that country. He therefore advised her to deceive the 
nobles by the very arts which they had hitherto employed 
against herself, and to secure them through smooth words 
and an obliging behavior. The king, he concluded, who 
knew the nobles to be the hidden springs of all the pre- 
vious troubles, would take good care to lay hands upon 
them at the first favorable opportunity, as well as the 
two whom he had already in Spain ; and did not mean 
to let them go again, having sworn to make an example 
in them which should horrify the whole of Christendom, 
even if it should cost him his hereditary dominions. 
This piece of evil news was strongly corroborated by the 
letters which Bergen and Montigny wrote from Spain, 
and in which they bitterly complained of the contempt- 
uous behavior of the grandees and the altered deportment 
of the monarch towards them ; and the Prince of Orange 
was now fully sensible what he had to expect from the 
fair promises of the king. ^ 

The letter of the minister, Alava, together with some 
others from Spain, which gave a circumstantial account of 
the approaching warlike visit of the king, and of his evil 
intentions against the nobles, was laid by the prince be- 
fore his brother, Count Louis of Nassau, Counts Egmont, 
Horn, and Hogstraten, at a meeting at Dendermonde 



in Flanders, whither tliese five knights had repaired 
to confer on the measures necessary for their secu- 
rity. Count Louis, who listened only to his feelings 
of indignation, foolhardily maintained that they ought, 
without loss of time, to take up arms and seize some 
strongholds. That they ought at all risks to prevent 
the king's armed entrance into the provinces. That 
they should endeavor to prevail on the Swiss, the Prot- 
estant princes of Germany, and the Huguenots to arm 
and obstruct his passage through their territories ; and 
if, notwithstanding, he should force his way through 
these impediments, that the Flemings should meet him 
with an army on the frontiers. He would take upon 
himself to negotiate a defensive alliance in France, in 
Switzerland, and in Germany, and to raise in the latter 
empire four thousand horse, together with a proportion- 
ate body of infantry. Pretexts would not be w^anting 
for collecting the requisite supplies of money, and the 
merchants of the reformed sect would, he felt assured, 
not fail them. But William, more cautious and more 
wise, declared himself against this proposal, which, in the 
execution, would be exposed to numberless difficulties, 
and had as yet nothing to justify it. The Inquisition, 
he represented, was in fact abolished, the edicts were 
nearly sunk into oblivion, and a fair degree of religious 
liberty accorded. Hitherto, therefore, there existed 
no valid or adequate excuse for adopting this hostile 
method ; he did not doubt, however, that one would be 
presented to them before long, and in good time for 
preparation. His own opinion consequently was that 
they should await this opportunity with patience, and in 
the meanwhile still keep a watchful eye upon everything, 
and contrive to give the people a hint of the threatened 
danger, that they might be ready to act if circumstances 
should call for their co-operation. If all present had 
assented to the opinion of the Prince of Orange, there is 
no doubt but so powerful a league, formidable both by 
the influence and the high character of its members, 
would have opposed obstacles to the designs of the king 
which would have compelled him to abandon them en- 
tirely. But the determination of the assembled knights 
14— Schiller Vol. VII 


was much shaken by the declaration with which Count 
Egmont surprised them. "Rather," said he, "may all 
that is evil befall me than that I should tempt fortune so 
rashly. The idle talk of the Spaniard, Alava, does not 
move me; how should such a person be able to read the 
mind of a sovereign so reserved as Philip, and to decipher 
his secrets? The intelligence which Montigny gives us 
goes to prove nothing more than that the king has a very 
doubtful opinion of our zeal for his service, and believes 
he has cause to distrust our loyalty; and for this I for 
my part must confess that we have given him only too 
much cause. And it is my serious purj^ose, by redoubling 
my zeal, to regain his good opinion, and by my future 
behavior to remove, if possible, the distrust which my 
actions have hitherto excited. How could I tear myself 
from the arms of my numerous and dependent family to 
wander as an exile at foreign courts, a burden to every 
one who received me, the slave of every one who conde- 
scended to assist me, a servant of foreigners, in order to 
escape a slight degree of constraint at home? Never 
can the monarch act unkindly towards a servant who was 
once beloved and dear to him, and who has established a 
well-grounded claim to his gratitude. Never shall I be 
persuaded that he who has expressed such favorable, such 
gracious sentiments towards his Belgian subjects, and 
with his own mouth gave me such emphatic, such solemn 
assurances, can be now devising, as it is pretended, such 
tyrannical schemes against them. If we do but restore 
to the country its former repose, chastise the rebels, and 
re-establish the Roman Catholic form of worship wher- 
ever it has been violently suppressed, then, believe me, 
we shall hear no more of Spanish troops. This is the 
course to which I now invite you all by my counsel and 
my example, and to which also most of our brethren 
already incline. I, for my part, fear nothing from the 
anger of the king. My conscience acquits me. I trust 
my fate and fortunes to his justice and clemency." In 
vain did Nassau, Horn, and Orange labor to shake his 
resolution, and to open his eyes to the near and inevitable 
dangler. Eo^mont was reallv attached to the kincc; the 
royal favors, and the condescension with which they 


were conferred, were still fresh in his remembrance. 
The attentions with which the monarch had distinguished 
him above all his friends had not failed of their effect. 
It was more from false shame than from party spirit that 
he had defended the cause of his countrymen against 
him; more from temperament and natural kindness of 
heart than from tried principles that he had opposed the 
severe measures of the government. The love of the 
nation, which worshipped him as its idol, carried him 
away. Too vain to renounce a title which sounded so 
agreeable, he had been compelled to do something to 
deserve it ; but a single look at his family, a harsher de- 
signation applied to his conduct, a dangerous inference 
drawn from it, the mere sound of crime, terrified him 
from his self-delusion, and scared him back in haste and 
alarm to his duty. 

Orange's whole plan was frustrated by Egmont's with- 
drawal. The latter possessed the hearts of the people 
and the confidence of the army, without which it was 
utterly impossible to undertake anything effective. The 
rest had reckoned with so much certainty upon him that 
his unexpected defection rendered the whole meeting 
nugatory. They therefore separated without coming to 
a determination. All who had met in Dendermonde 
were expected in the council of state in Brussels; but 
Egmont alone repaired thither. The regent wished to 
sift him on the subject of this conference, but she could 
extract nothing further from him than the production of 
the letter of Alava, of which he had purposely taken a 
copy, and which, with the bitterest reproofs, he laid before 
her. At first she changed color at sight of it, but quickly 
recovering herself, she boldly declared that it was a for» 
gery. "How can this letter," she said, "really come 
from Alava, when I miss none ? And would he who pre- 
tends to have intercepted it have spared the other letters? 
Kay, how can it be true, when not a single packet has 
miscarried, nor a single despatch failed to come to hand? 
How, too, can it be thought likely that the king would 
have made Alava master of a secret which he has not 
communicated even to me?" 



1566. Meanwhile the regent hastened to take advan- 
tage of the schism amongst the nobles to complete the 
ruin of the league, which was already tottering under 
the weight of internal dissensions. Without loss of time 
she drew from Germany the troops which Duke Eric of 
Brunswick was holding in readiness, augmented the cav- 
alry, and raised five regiments of Walloons, the command 
of which she gave to Counts Mansfeld, Megen, Arem- 
berg, and others. To the prince, l«tkewise, she felt it 
necessary to confide troops, both because she did not 
wish, by withholding them pointedly, to insult him, and 
also because the provinces of which he was governor 
were in urgent need of them; but she took the precau- 
tion of joining with him a Colonel Waldenfinger, who 
should watch all his steps and thwart his measures if 
they appeared dangerous. To Count Sgmont the clergy 
in Flanders paid a contribution of forty thousand gold 
florins for the maintenance of fifteen hundred men, whom 
he distributed among the places where danger was most 
apprehended. Every governor was ordered to increase 
his military force, and to provide himself with ammuni- 
tion. These energetic preparations, which were making 
in all places, left no doubt as to the measures which the 
regent would adopt in future. Conscious of her superior 
force, and certain of this important support, she now 
ventured to change her tone, and to employ quite another 
language with the rebels. She began to put the most 
arbitrary interpretation on the concessions which, through 
fear and necessity, she had made to the Protestants, and 
to restrict all the liberties which she had tacitly granted 
them to the mere permission of their preaching. All 
other religious exercises and rites, which yet appeared to 
be involved in the former privilege, were by new edicts 
expressly forbidden, and all offenders in such matters 
were to be proceeded against as traitors. The Prot- 
estants were permitted to think differently from the 
ruling church upon the sacrament, but to receive it dif- 
ferently was a crime; baptism, marriage, burial, after 


their fashion, were prohibited under pain of death. It 
was a cruel mockery to allow them their religion, and 
forbid the exercise of it ; but this mean artifice of the 
regent to escape from the obligation of her pledged 
word was worthy of the pusillanimity with which she 
had submitted to its being extorted from her. She took 
advantage of the most trifling innovations and the small- 
est excesses to interrupt the preachings ; and some of the 
preachers, under the charge of having performed their 
office in places not appointed to them, were brought to 
trial, condemned, and executed. On more than one 
occasion the regent publicly declared that the confed- 
erates had taken unfair advantage of her fears, and that 
she did not feel herself bound by an engagement which 
had been extorted from her by threats. 

Of all the Belgian towns which had participated in the 
insurrection of the Iconoclasts none had caused the regent 
so much alarm as the town of Valenciennes, in Hainault. 
In no other was the party of the Calvinists so powerful, 
and the spirit of rebellion for which the province of 
Hainault had always made itself conspicuous, seemed to 
dwell here as in its native place. The propinquity of 
France, to which, as well by language as by manners, 
this town appeared to belong, rather than to the Nether- 
lands, had from the first led to its being governed with 
great mildness and forbearance, which, however, only 
taught it to feel its own importance. At the last out- 
break of the church-desecrators it had been on the point 
of surrendering to the Huguenots, with whom it main- 
tained the closest understanding. The slightest excite- 
ment might renew this danger. On this account Valen- 
ciennes was the first town to which the regent proposed, 
as soon as should be in her power, to send a strong gar- 
rison. Philip of Noircarmes, Baron of St. Aldegonde, 
Governor of Hainault in the place of the absent Marquis 
of Bergen, had received this charge, and now appeared 
at the head of an army before its walls. Deputies came 
to meet him on the part of the magistrate from the town, 
to petition against the garrison, because the Protestant 
citizens, who were the superior number, had declared 
against it. Noircarmes acquainted them with the will of 


the regent, and gave them the choice between the garri« 
son or a siege. He assured them that not more than 
four squadrons of horse and six companies of foot should 
be imposed upon the town ; and for this he would give 
them his son as a hostage. These terms were laid before 
the magistrate, who, for his part, was much inclined to 
accept them. But Peregrine Le Grange, the preacher, 
and the idol of the populace, to whom it was of vital im- 
portance to prevent a submission of which he would in- 
evitably become the victim, appeared at the head of his 
followers, and by his powerful eloquence excited the 
people to reject the conditions. When their answer was 
brought to Noircarmes, contrary to all law of nations, he 
caused the messengers to be placed in irons, and carried 
them away with him as prisoners ; he was, however, by 
express command of the regent, compelled to set them 
free again. The regent, instructed by secret orders from 
Madrid to exercise as much forbearance as possible, 
caused the town to be repeatedly summoned to receive 
the garrison ; when, however, it obstinately persisted in 
its refusal, it was declared by public edict to be in rebel- 
lion, and Noircarmes was authorized to commence the 
siege in form. The other provinces were forbidden to 
assist this rebellious town with advice, money, or arms. 
All the property contained in it was confiscated. In 
order to let it see the war before it began in earnest, and 
to give it time for rational reflection, Noircarmes drew 
together troops from all Hainault and Cambray (1566), 
took possession of St. Amant, and placed garrisons in all 
adjacent places. 

The line of conduct adopted towards Valenciennes al- 
lowed the other towns which were similarly situated to 
infer the fate which was intended for them also, and at 
once put the whole league in motion. An army of the 
Gueux, between tliree thousand and four thousand strong, 
which was hastily col]ected from the rabble of fugitives, 
and the remaining^ bands of the Iconoclasts, appeared in 
the territories of Tournav and Lille, in order to secure 
these two towns, and to annovthe encmv at Valenciennes. 
The commandant of Lille was fortunate enough to main- 
tain that place by routing a detachment of this army, 


which, in concert with the Protestant inhabitants, had 
made an attempt to get possession of it. At the same 
time the army of the Gueux, which was uselessly wasting 
its time at Lannoy, was surprised by Noircarmes and 
almost entirely annihilated. The few who with desperate 
courage forced their way through the enemy, threw them- 
selves into the town of Tournay, which was immediately 
summoned by the victor to open its gates and admit a 
garrison. Its prompt obedience obtained for it a milder 
fate. Noircarmes contented himself with abolishing the 
Protestant consistory, banishing the preachers, punishing 
the leaders of the rebels, and again re-establishing the 
Roman Catholic worship, which he found almost entirely 
suppressed. After giving it a steadfast Roman Catholic 
as governor, and leaving in it a sufficient garrison, he 
again returned with his victorious army to Valenciennes 
to press the siege. 

This town, confident in its strength, actively prepared 
for defence, firmly resolved to allow things to come to 
extremes before it surrendered. The inhabitants had not 
neglected to furnish themselves with ammunition and 
provisions for a long siege ; all who could carry arms 
(the very artisans not excepted), became soldiers ; the 
houses before the town, and especially the cloisters, were 
pulled down, that the besiegers might not avail them- 
selves of them to cover their attack. The few adherents 
of the crown, awed by the multitude, were silent ; no 
Roman Catholic ventured to stir himself. Anarchy and 
rebellion had taken the place of good order, and the 
fanaticism of a foolhardy priest gave laws instead of the 
legal dispensers of justice. The male population was 
numerous, their courage confirmed by despair, their con- 
fidence unbounded that the siege would be raised, while 
their hatred against the Roman Catholic religion was 
excited to the highest pitch. Many had no mercy to 
expect; all abhorred the general thraldom of an imperious 
garrison. ISToircarmes, whose army had become formida- 
ble through the reinforcements which streamed to it from 
all quarters, and was abundantly furnished with all the 
requisites for a long blockade, once more attempted to 
prevail on the town by gentle means, but in vain. At 


last he caused the trenches to be opened and prepared to 
invest the place. 

In the meanwhile the position of the Protestants had 
grown as much worse as that of the regent had improved. 
The league of the nobles had gradually melted away to a 
third of its original number. Some of its most important 
defenders, Count Egmont, for instance, had gone over to 
the king; the pecuniary contributions which had been so 
confidently reckoned upon came in but slowly and scant- 
ily ; the zeal of the party began perceptibly to cool, and 
the close of the fine season made it necessary to discon- 
tinue the public preachings, which, up to this time, had 
been continued. These and other reasons combined in- 
duced the declining party to moderate its demands, and to 
try every legal expedient before it proceeded to extrem- 
ities. In a general synod of the Protestants, w^hich was 
held for this object in Antwerp, and which was also at- 
tended by some of the confederates, it was resolved to 
send deputies to the regent to remonstrate with her upon 
this breach of faith, and to remind her of her compact. 
Brederode undertook this office, but was obliged to sub- 
mit to a harsh and disgraceful rebuff, and was shut out 
of Brussels. He had now recourse to a written memorial, 
in which, in the name of the whole league, he complained 
that the duchess had, by violating her word, falsified in 
sight of all the Protestants the security given by the 
league, in reliance on which all of them had laid down 
their arms; that by her insincerity she had undone all 
the good which the confederates had labored to effect ; 
that she had sought to degrade the league in the eyes of 
the people, had excited discord among its members, and 
had even caused many of them to be persecuted as 
criminals. He called upon her to recall her late ordi- 
nances, which deprived the Protestants of the free exer- 
cise of their religion, but above all to raise the siege of 
Valenciennes, to disband the troops newly enlisted, and 
ended by assuring her that on these conditions and these 
alone the league would be responsible for the general 

To this the regent replied in a tone very different from 
her previous moderation. " Who these confederates are 


who address me in this memorial is, indeed, a mystery to 
me. The confederates with whom I had formerly to do, 
for ought I know to the contrary, have dispersed. All at 
least cannot participate in this statement of grievances, 
for I myself know of many, who, satisfied in all their 
demands, have returned to their duty. But still, whoever 
he may be, who without authority and right, and without 
name addresses me, he has at least given a very false 
interpretation to my word if he asserts that I guaranteed 
to the Protestants complete religious liberty. No one 
can be ignorant how reluctantly 1 was induced to permit 
the preachings in the places where they had sprung up 
unauthorized, and this surely cannot be counted for a 
concession of freedom in religion. Is it likely that I 
should have entertained the idea of protecting these 
illegal consistories, of tolerating this state within a state ? 
Could I forget myself so far as to grant the sanction of 
law to an objectionable sect; to overturn all order in the 
church and in the state, and abominably to blaspheme my 
holy religion ? Look to him who has given you such per- 
mission, but you must not argue with me. You accuse 
me of having violated the agreement which gave you 
impunity and security. The past I am willing to look 
over, but not what may be done in future. No ad- 
vantage was to be taken of you on account of the petition 
of last April, and to the best of my knowledge nothing of 
the kind has as yet been done ; but whoever again offends 
in the same way against the majesty of the king must be 
ready to bear the consequences of his crime. In fine, 
how can you presume to remind me of an agreement 
which you have been the first to break ? At whose insti- 
gation were the churches plundered, the images of the 
saints thrown down, and the towns hurried into rebeU 
lion ? Who formed alliances w^ith foregn powers, set on 
foot illegal enlistments, and collected unlawful taxes from 
the subjects of the king? These are the reasons which 
have impelled me to draw together my troops, and to in- 
crease the severity of the edicts. Whoever now asks me 
to lay down my arms cannot mean well to his country or 
his king, and if ye value your own lives, look to it that 
your own actions acquit you, instead of judging mine." 


All the hopes which the confederates might have enter- 
tained of an amicable adjustment sank with this high- 
toned declaration. Without being confident of possessing 
powerful support, the regent would not, they argued, em- 
ploy such language. An army was in the field, the enemy 
was before Valenciennes, the members who were the heart 
of the league had abandoned it, and the regent required 
unconditional submission. Their cause was now so bad 
that open resistance could not make it worse. If they 
gave themselves up defenceless into the hands of their 
exasperated sovereign their fate was certain ; an appeal 
to arms could at least make it a matter of doubt ; they, 
therefore, chose the latter, and began seriously to take 
steps for their defence. In order to insure the assistance 
of the German Protestants, Louis of Nassau attempted 
to persuade the towns of Amsterdam, Antwerp, Tournay, 
and Valenciennes to adopt the confession of Augsburg, 
and in this manner to seal their alliance with a religious 
union. But the proposition was not successful, because 
the hatred of the Calvinists to the Lutherans exceeded, 
if possible, that which they bore to popery. Nassau also 
began in earnest to negotiate for supplies from France, 
the Palatinate, and Saxony. The Count of Bergen forti- 
fied his castles ; Brederode threw himself with a small 
force into his strong town of Vianne on the Leek, over 
which he claimed the rights of sovereignty, and which he 
hastily placed in a state of defense, and there awaited a 
reinforcement from the league, and the issue of Nassua's 
negotiations. The flag of war was now unfurled, every- 
where the drum was heard to beat ; in all parts troops 
were seen on the march, contributions collected, and 
soldiers enlisted. The agents of each party often met in 
the same place, and hardly had the collectors and re- 
cruiting ofiicers of the regent quitted a town when it had 
to endure a similar visit from the agents of the league. 

From Valenciennes the regent directed her attention 
to Herzogenbusch, where the Iconoclasts had lately com- 
mitted fresh excesses, and the party of the Protestants 
had gained a great accession of strength. In order to 
prevail on the citizens peaceably to receive a garrison, 
she sent thither, as ambassador, the Chancellor Scheiff; 


from Brabant, with counsellor Merode of Petersheim, 
whom she appointed governor of the town ; they were 
instructed to secure the place by judicious means, and to 
exact from the citizens a new oath of allegiance. At the 
same time the Count of Megen, who was in the neighbor- 
hood with a body of troops, was ordered to support the 
two envoys in effecting their commission, and to afford 
the means of throwing in a garrison immediately. But 
Brederode, who obtained information of these movements 
in Viane, had already sent thither one of his creatures, a 
certain Anton von Bomberg, a hot Calvinist, but also 
a brave soldier, in order to raise the courage of his party, 
and to frustrate the designs of the regent. This Bomberg 
succeeded in getting possession of the letters which the 
chancellor brought with him from the duchess, and con- 
trived to substitute in their place counterfeit ones, which, 
by their harsh and imperious language, were calculated to 
exasperate the minds of the citizens. At the same time 
he attempted to throw suspicion on both the ambassadors 
of the duchess as having evil designs upon the town. In 
this he succeeded so well with the mob that in their mad 
fury they even laid hands on the ambassadors and placed 
them in confinement. He himself, at the head of eight 
thousand men, who had adopted him as their leader, ad- 
vanced against the Count of Megen, who was moving in 
order of battle, and gave him so warm a reception, with 
some heavy artillery, that he was compelled to retire 
without accomplishing his object. The regent now sent 
an officer of justice to demand the release of her ambas- 
sadors, and in case of refusal to threaten the place with 
siege ; but Bomberg with his party surrounded the town 
hall and forced the magistrate to deliver to him the key 
of the town. The messenger of the regent was ridiculed 
and dismissed, and an answer sent through him that the 
treatment of the prisoners would depend upon Brede- 
rode's orders. The herald, who was remaining outside 
before the town, now appeared to declare war against her, 
which, however, the chancellor prevented. 

After his futile attempt on Herzogenbusch the Count 
of Megen threw himself into Utrecht in order to prevent 
the execution of a design which Count Brederode had 


formed against that town. As it had suffered much 
from the army of the confederates, which was encamped 
in its immediate neighborhood, near Viane, it received 
Megen with open arms as its protector, and conformed 
to all the alterations which he made in the religious 
worship. Upon this he immediately caused a redoubt to 
be thrown up on the bank of the Leek, which would 
command Viane. Brederode, not disposed to await his 
attack, quitted that rendezvous wdth the best part of his 
army and hastened to Amsterdam. 

However unprofitably the Prince of Orange appeared 
to be losing his time in Antwerp during these operations 
he was, nevertheless, busily employed. At his instigation 
the league had commenced recruiting, and Brederode 
had fortified his castles, for which purpose he himself 
presented him with three cannons which he had had cast 
at Utrecht. His eye watched all the movements of the 
court, and he kept the league warned of the towns which 
were next menaced with attack. But his chief object 
appeared to be to get possession of the principal places 
in the districts under his own government, to which end 
he with all his power secretly assisted Brederode's plans 
against Utrecht and Amsterdam. The most important 
place was the Island of Walcheren, where the king was 
expected to land ; and he now planned a scheme for the 
surprise of this place, the conduct of which was entrusted 
to one of the confederate nobles, an intimate friend of the 
Prince of Orange, John of Marnix, Baron of Thoulouse, 
and brother of Philip of Aldegonde. 

1567. Thoulouse maintained a secret understanding 
with the late mayor of Middleburg, Peter Haak, by 
which he expected to gain an opportunity of throwing a 
garrison into Middleburg and Flushing. The recruiting, 
however, for this undertaking, which w^as set on foot in 
Antwerp, could not be carried on so quietly as not to 
attract the notice of the magistrate. In order, therefore, 
to lull the suspicions of the latter, and at the same time 
to promote the success of the scheme, the prince caused 
the herald by public proclamation to order all foreign 
soldiers and strangers who were in the service of the 
state, or employed in other business, forthwith to quit 


the town. He might, say his adversaries, by closing the 
gates have easily made himself master of all these sus- 
pected recruits ; but he expelled them from the town in 
order to drive them the more quickly to the place of their 
destination. They immediately embarked on the Scheldt, 
and sailed down to Eammekens ; as, however, a market- 
vessel of Antwerp, which ran into Flushing a little before 
them had given warning of their design they were for- 
bidden to enter the port. They found the same difficulty 
at Arnemuiden, near Middleburg, although the Protest- 
ants in that place exerted themselves to raise an insur- 
rection in their favor. Thoulouse, therefore , without 
having accomplished anything, put about his ships and 
sailed back down the Scheldt as far as Osterweel, a 
quarter of a mile from Antwerp, where he disembarked 
his people and encamped on the shore, with the hope of 
getting men from Antwerp, and also in order to revive 
by his presence the courage of his party, which had been 
cast down by the proceedings of the magistrate. By the 
aid of the Calvinistic clergy, who recruited for him, his 
little army increased daily, so that at last he began to be 
formidable to the Antwerpians, whose whole territory he 
laid waste. The magistrate was for attacking him here 
with the militia, which, however, the Prince of Orange 
successfully opposed by the pretext that it would not be 
prudent to strip the town of soldiers. 

Meanwhile the regent had hastily brought together a 
small army under the command of Philip of Launoy, 
which moved from Brussels to Antwerp by forced 
marches. At the same time Count Megen managed to 
keep the army of the Gueux shut up and employed at 
Viane, so that it could neither hear of these movements 
nor hasten to the assistance of its confederates. Launoy, 
on his arrival attacked by surprise the dispersed crowds, 
who, little expecting an enemy, had gone out to plunder, 
and destroyed them in one terrible carnage. Thoulouse 
threw himself with the small remnant of his troops into a 
country house, which had served him as his headquarters, 
and for a long time defended himself with the courage of 
despair, until Launoy, finding it impossible to dislodge 
him, set fire to the house. The few who escaped the 


flames fell on the swords of tlie enemy or were drowned 
in the Scheldt. Thoulouse himself preferred to perish in 
the flames rather than to fall into the hands of the enemy. 
This victory, which swept off more than a thousand of 
the enemy, was purchased by the conqueror cheaply 
enough, for he did not lose more than two men. Three 
hundred of the leaguers who surrendered were cut down 
without mercy on the spot, as a sally from Antwerp was 
momentarily dreaded. 

Before the battle actually commenced no anticipation 
of such an event had been entertained at Antwerp. The 
Prince of Orange, who had got early information of it, 
had taken the precaution the day before of causing the 
bridge which unites the town with Osterweel to be de- 
stroyed, in order, as he gave out, to prevent the Calvin ists 
within the town going out to join the army of Thoulouse. 
A more probable motive seems to have been a fear lest 
the Catholics should attack the army of the Gueux gen- 
eral in the rear, or lest Launoy should prove victorious, 
and try to force his way into the town. On the same 
pretext the gates of the city were also shut by his 
orders, and the inhabitants, who did not comprehend 
the meaning of all these movements, fluctuated between 
curiosity and alarm, until the sound of artillery from 
Osterweel announced to them what there was going 
on. In clamorous crowds they all ran to the walls and 
ramparts, from which, as the wind drove the smoke from 
the contending armies, they commanded a full view of 
the whole battle. Both armies were so near to the town 
that they could discern their banners, and clearly dis- 
tinguish the voices of the victors and the vanquished. 
More terrible even than the battle itself was the spectacle 
which this town now presented. Each of the conflicting 
armies had its friends and its enemies on the wall. All 
that went on in the plain roused on the ramparts exulta- 
tion or dismay ; on the issue of the conflict the fate of 
each spectator seemed to depend. Every movement on 
the field could be read in the faces of the townsmen ; 
defeat and triumph, the terror of the conquered, and the 
fury of the conqueror. Here a painful but idle wish to 
support those who are giving way, to rally those who fly; 


there an equally futile desire to overtake tliem, to slay 
them, to extirpate them. Now the Gueux fly, and ten 
thousand men rejoice; Thoulouse's last place and refuge 
is in flames, and the hopes of twenty thousand citizens 
are consumed with him. 

But the first bewilderment of alarm soon gave place to 
a frantic desire of revenge. Shrieking aloud, wringing 
her hands and with dishevelled hair, the widow of the 
slain general rushed amidst the crowds to implore their 
pity and help. Excited by their favorite preacher, Her- 
mann, the Calvinists fly to arms, determined to avenge 
their brethren, or to perish with them ; without reflection, 
without plan or leader, guided by nothing but their 
anguish, their delirium, they rush to the Red Gate of the 
city which leads to the field of battle ; but there is no 
egress, the gate is shut and the foremost of the crowd 
recoil on those that follow. Thousands and thousands 
collect together, a dreadful rush is made to the Meer 
Bridge. We are betrayed ! we are prisoners ! is the 
general cry. Destruction to the papists, death to him 
who has betrayed us ! ■ — a sullen murmur, portentous of a 
revolt, runs through the multitude. They begin to sus- 
pect that all that has taken place has been set on foot by 
the Roman Catholics to destroy the Calvinists. They had 
slain their defenders, and they would now fall upon the 
defenceless. With fatal speed this suspicion spreads 
through the whole of Antwerp. Now they can, they 
think, understand the past, and they fear something stiU 
worse in the background ; a frightful distrust gains pos- 
session of every mind. Each party dreads the other; 
every one sees an enemy in his neighbor; the mystery 
deepens the alarm and horror; a fearful condition for a 
populous town, in which every accidental concourse in- 
stantly becomes tumult, every rumor started amongst 
them becomes a fact, every small spark a blazing flame, 
and by the force of numbers and collision all passions 
are furiously inflamed. All who bore the name of Cal- 
vinists were roused by this report. Fifteen thousand of 
them take possession of the Meer Bridge, and plant heavy 
artillery upon it, which they had taken by force from the 
arsenal ; the same thing also happens at another bridge ; 


their number makes tliem formidable, the town is in their 
hands ; to escape an imaginary danger they bring all 
Antwerp to the brink of ruin. 

Immediately on the commencement of the tumult the 
Prince of Orange hastened to the Meer Bridge, where, 
boldly forcing his way through the raging crowd, he com- 
manded peace and entreated to be heard. At the other 
bridge Count Hogstraten, accompanied by the Burgo- 
master Strahlen, made the same attempt ; but not j^ossess^ 
ing a sufficient share either of eloquence or of popularity 
to command attention, he referred the tumultuous crowd 
to the prince, around whom all Antwerp now furiously 
thronged. The gate, he endeavored to explain to them, 
was shut simply to keep off the victor, whoever he might 
be, from the city, which would otherwise become the prey 
of an infuriated soldiery. In vain ! the frantic people 
would not listen, and one more daring than the rest pre- 
sented his musket at him, calling him a traitor. With 
tumultuous shouts they demanded the key of the Red 
Gate, which he was ultimately forced to deliver into the 
hands of the preacher Hermann. But, he added with 
happy presence of mind, they must take heed what they 
were doing ; in the suburbs six hundred of the enemy's 
horse were waiting to receive them. This invention, 
suggested by the emergency, was not so far removed from 
the truth as its author perhaps imagined ; for no sooner 
had the victorous general perceived the commotion in 
Antwerp than he caused his whole cavalry to mount in 
the hope of being able, under favor of the disturbance, to 
break into the town. I, at least, continued the Prince of 
Orange, shall secure my own safety in time, and he who 
follows my example will save himself much future regret. 
These words opportunely spoken and immediately acted 
upon had their effect. Those who stood nearest followed 
him, and were again followed by the next, so that at last 
the few who had already hastened out of the city when 
they saw no one coming after them lost the desire of 
coping alone with the six hundred horse. All accordingly 
returned to the Meer Bridge, where they posted watches 
and videttes, and the night was passed tumultuously 
under arms. 


The town of Antwerp was now threatened with fearful 
bloodshed and pillage. In this pressing emergency 
Orange assembled an extraordinary senate, to which were 
summoned all the best-disposed citizens of the four na,- 
tions. If they wished, said he, to repress the violence of 
the Calvinists they must oppose them with an army 
strong enough and prepared to meet them. It was there- 
fore resolved to arm with speed the Roman Catholic in- 
habitants of the town, whether natives, Italians, or Span- 
iards, and, if possible, to induce the Lutherans also to join 
them. The haughtiness of the Calvinists, who, proud 
of their wealth and confident in their numbers, treated 
every other religious party with contempt, had long made 
the Lutherans their enemies, and the mutual exasperation 
of these two Protestant churches was even more implaca- 
ble than their common hatred of the dommant church. 
This jealousy the magistrate had turned to advantage, by 
making use of one party to curb the other, and had thus 
contrived to keep the Calvinists in check, who, from their 
numbers and insolence, were most to be feared. With 
this view, he had tacitly taken into his protection the 
Lutherans, as the weaker and more peaceable party, 
having moreover invited for them, from Germany, spirit- 
ual teachers, who, by controversial sermons, might keep 
up the mutual hatred of the two bod es. He encouraged 
the Lutherans in the vain idea that the king thought 
more favorably of their religious creed than that of the 
Calvinists, and exhorted them to be careful how they 
damaged their good cause by any understanding with the 
latter. It was not, therefore, difficult to bring about, for 
the moment, a union with the Roman Catholics and the 
Lutherans, as its object was to keep down their detested 
rivals. At dawn of day an army was opposed to the 
Calvinists which was far superior in force to their own. 
At the head of this army, the eloquence of Orange had 
far greater effect, and found far more attention than on 
the preceding evening, unbacked by such strong persua- 
sion. The Calvinists, though in possession of arms and 
artillery, yet, alarmed at the superior numbers arrayed 
against them, were the first to send envoys, and to treat 
for an amicable adjustment of differences, which by the 
15— Schiller Yol. YII, 


tact and good temper of the Prince of Orange, he con- 
cluded to the satisfaction of all parties. On the procla 
mation of this treaty the Sj^aniards and Italians immdi- 
ately laid down their arms. They were followed by the 
Calvinists, and these again by the Roman Catholics ; last 
of all the Lutherans disarmed. 

Two days and two nights Antwerp had continued in 
this alarming state. During the tumult the Roman 
Catholics had succeeded in placing barrels of gunpowder 
under the Meer Bridge, and threatened to blow into the 
air the whole army of the Calvinists, who had done the 
same in other places to destroy their adversaries. The 
destruction of the town hung on the issue of a moment, 
and nothing but the prince's presence of mind saved it. 

Noircarmes, with his army of Walloons, still lay before 
Valenciennes, which, in firm reliance on being relieved 
by the Gueux, obstinately refused to listen to all the repre* 
sentations of the regent, and rejected every idea of sur- 
render. An order of the court had expressly forbidden 
the royalist general to press the siege until he should 
receive reinforcements from Germany. Whether from 
forbearance or fear, the king regarded with abhor- 
rence the violent measure of storming the place, as 
necessarily involving the innocent in the fate of the 
guilty, and exposing the loyal subject to the same ill' 
treatment as the rebel. As, however, the confidence of 
the besieged augmented daily, and emboldened by the 
inactivity of the besiegers, they annoyed him by frequent 
sallies, and after burning the cloisters before the town, 
retired with the plunder — as the time uselessly lost 
before this town was put to good use by the rebels and 
their allies, Noircarmes besought the duchess to obtain 
immediate permission from the king to take it by storm. 
The answer arrived more quickly than Philip was ever 
before wont to reply. As yet they must be content, 
simply to make the necessary preparations, and then to 
wait awhile to allow terror to have its effect ; but if upon 
this they did not appear ready to capitulate, the storming 
might take place, but, at the same time, with the greatest 
possible regard for the lives of the inhabitants. Before 
the regent allowed Noircarmes to proceed to this ex- 


tremity she empowered Count Egmont, with the Duke 
Arschot, to treat once more with the rebels amicably. 
Both conferred with the deputies of the town, and omitted 
no argument calculated to dispel their delusion. They 
acquainted them with the defeat of Thoulouse, their sole 
support, and with the fact that the Count of Megen had 
cut off the army of the Gueux from the town, and assured 
them that if they had held out so long they owed it 
entirely to the king's forbearance. They offered them 
full pardon for the past; every one was to be free to 
prove his innocence before whatever tribunal he should 
chose ; such as did not wish to avail themselves of this 
privilege were to be allowed fourteen days to quit the town 
with all their effects. Nothing was required of the 
townspeople but the admission of the garrison. To give 
time to deliberate on these terms an armistice of three 
days was granted. When the deputies returned they 
found their fellow-citizens less disposed than ever to an 
accommodation, reports of new levies by, the Gueux 
having, in the meantime, gained currency. Thoulouse, it 
was pretended, had conquered, and was advancing with 
a powerful army to relieve the place. Their confidence 
went so far that they even ventured to break the armis- 
tice, and to fire upon the besiegers. At last the burgo- 
master, with difficulty, succeeded in bringing matters so 
far towards a peaceful settlement that twelve of the town 
counsellors were sent into the camp with the following 
conditions : The edict by which Valenciennes had been 
charged with treason and declared an enemy to the 
country was required to be recalled, the confiscation of 
their goods revoked, and the prisoners on both sides 
restored to liberty ; the garrison was not to enter the 
town before every one who thought good to do so had 
placed himself and his property in security ; and a pledge 
to be given that the inhabitants should not be molested 
in any manner, and that their expenses should be paid by 
the king. 

Noircarmes was so indignant with these conditions that 
he was almost on the point of ill-treating the deputies. If 
they had not come, he told them, to give up the place, they 
might return forthwith, lest he should send them home 


with their hands tied behind their backs. Upon this the 
deputies threw the blame on the obstinacy of the Cal- 
vinists, and entreated him, with tears in their eyes, to 
keep them in the camp, as they did not, they said, wish 
to have anything more to do with their rebellious towns- 
men, or to be joined in their fate. They even knelt to 
beseech the intercession of Egmont, but Noircarmes 
remained deaf to all their entreaties, and the sight of the 
chains which he ordered to be brought out drove them 
reluctantly enough back to Valenciennes. Necessity, not 
severity, imposed this harsh jjrocedure upon the general. 
The detention of ambassadors had on a former occasion 
drawn upon him the reprimand of the duchess; the 
people in the town would not have failed to have ascribed 
the non-appearance of their present deputies to the same 
cause as in the former case had detained them. Besides, 
he was loath to deprive the town of any out of the small 
residue of well-disposed citizens, or to leave it a prey to 
a blind, foolhardy mob. Egmont was so mortified at the 
bad reiiilt of his embassy that he the night following rode 
round to reconnoitre its fortifications, and returned well 
satisfied to have convinced himself that it was no longer 

Valenciennes stretches down a gentle acclivity into the 
level plain, being built on a site as strong as it is delight- 
ful. On one side enclosed by the Scheldt and another 
smaller river, and on the other protected by deep ditches, 
thick walls, and towers, it appears capable of defying every 
attack. But Noircarmes had discovered a few points 
where neglect had allowed the fosse to be filled almost up 
to the level of the natural surface, and of these he deter- 
mined to avail himself in storming. He drew together 
all the scattered corps by which he had invested the town, 
and during a tempestuous night carried the suburb of Berg 
without the loss of a single man. He then assigned 
separate points of attack to the Count of Bossu, the 
young Charles of Mansfeld, and the younger Barlaimont, 
and under a terrible fire, which drove the enemy from his 
walls, his troops were moved up with all possible speed. 
Close before the town, and opposite the gate under the 
^yes of the besiegers, and with very little loss, a batterj 


was thrown up to an equal heiglit with the fortifications. 
From this point the town was bombarded with an unceas- 
ing fire for four hours. The Nicolaus tower, on which 
the besieged had planted some artillery, was among the 
first that fell, and many perished under its ruins. The 
guns were directed against all the most conspicuous 
buildings, and a terrible slaughter was made amongst the 
inhabitants. In a few hours their principal works were 
destroyed, and in the gate itself so extensive a breach 
was made that the besieged, despairing of any longer 
defending themselves, sent in haste two trumpeters to 
entreat a parley. This was granted, but the storm was 
continued without intermission. The ambassador en- 
treated Noircarmes to grant them the same terms which 
only two days before they had rejected. But circum- 
stances had now changed, and the victor would hear no 
more of conditions. The unceasing fire left the inhabit- 
ants no time to repair the ramparts, which filled the 
fosse with their debris, and opened many a breach for the 
enemy to enter by. Certain of utter destruction, they 
surrendered next morning at discretion after a bombard- 
ment of six-and-thirty hours without intermission, and 
three thousand bombs had been thrown into the city. 
Koircarmes marched into the town with his victorious 
army under the strictest discipline, and was received by a 
crowd of women and children, who went to meet him, 
carrying green boughs, and beseeching his pity. All the 
citizens were immediately disarmed, the commandant 
and his son beheaded ; thirty-six of the most guilty of the 
rebels, among whom were La Grange and another Calvin- 
istic preacher, Guido de Bresse, atoned for their obstinacy 
at the gallows ; all the municipal functionaries were 
deprived of their ofiices, and the town of all its privileges. 
The Roman Catholic worship was immediately restored 
in full dignity, and the Protestant abolished. The Bishop 
of Arras was obliged to quit his residence in the town, 
and a strong garrison placed in it to insure its future 

The fate of Valenciennes, towards which all eyes had 
been turned, was a warning to the other towns which 
bad similarly offended. Noircarmes followed up his 


victory, and marched immediately against Maestricht, 
which surrendered without a blow, and received a garri- 
son. From thence he marched to Tornhut to awe by his 
presence the people of Herzogenbusch and Antwerp. 
The Gueux in this place, who under the command of 
Bomberg had carried all things before them, were now 
so terrified at his approach that they quitted the town in 
haste. Noircarmes was received without opposition. The 
ambassadors of the duchess were immediately set at 
liberty. A strong garrison was thrown into Tornhut c 
Cambray also opened its gates, and joyfully recalled its 
archbishop, whom the Calvinists had driven from his see, 
and who deserved this triumph as he did not stain his 
entrance with blood. Ghent, Ypres, and Oudenarde 
submitted and received garrisons. Gueldres was now 
almost entirely cleared of the rebels and reduced to 
obedience by the Count of Megen. In Friesland and 
Groningen the Count of Aremberg had eventually the 
same success; but it was not obtained here so rapidly or 
so easily, since the count wanted consistency and firmness, 
and these warlike republicans maintained more pertinar 
ciously their privileges, and were greatly supported by 
the strength of their position. With the exception of 
Holland all the provinces had yielded before the victori- 
ous arms of the duchess. The courage of the disaffected 
sunk entirely, and nothing was left to them but flight or 


Ever since the establishment of the Guesen league, 
but more perceptibly since the outbreak of the Iconoclasts, 
the spirit of rebellion and disaffection had spread so 
rapidly among all classes, parties had become so blended 
and confused, that the regent had difificulty in distinguish- 
ing her own adherents, and at last hardly knew on whom 
to rely. The lines of demarcation between the loyal and 
the disaffected liad grown gradually fainter, until at last 
they almost entirely vanished. The frequent alterations, 
too, which she had been obliged to make in the laws, and 
which were at most the expedients and suggestions of 


the moment, had taken from them their precision and 
binding force, and had given full scope to the arbitrary 
will of every individual whose office it was to interpret 
them. And at last, amidst the number and variety of the 
interpretations, the spirit was lost and the intention of 
the lawgiver baffled. The close connection which in 
many cases subsisted between Protestants and Roman 
Catholics, between Gueux and Royalists, and which not 
unfrequently gave them a common interest, led the latter 
to avail themselves of the loophole which the vagueness 
of the laws left open, and in favor of their Protestant 
friends and associates evaded by subtle distinctions all 
severity in the discharge of their duties. In their minds 
it was enough not to be a declared rebel, not one of the 
Gueux, or at least not a heretic, to be authorized to 
mould their duties to their inclinations, and to set the 
most arbitrary limits to their obedience to the king. 
Feeling themselves irresponsible, the governors of the 
provinces, the civil functionaries, both high and low, the 
municipal officers, and the military commanders had all 
become extremely remiss in their duty, and presuming 
upon this impunity showed a pernicious indulgence to 
the rebels and their adherents which rendered abortive 
all the regent's measures of coercion. This general in- 
difference and corruption of so many servants of the 
state liad further this injurious result, that it led the 
turbulent to reckon on far stronger support than in 
reality they had cause for, and to count on their own 
side all who were but lukewarm adherents of the court. 
This way of thinking, erroneous as it was, gave them 
greater courage and confidence ; it had the same effect as 
if it had been well founded ; and the uncertain vassals of 
the king became in consequence almost as injurious to 
him as his declared enemies, without at the same time 
being liable to the same measures of severity. This was 
especially the case with the Prince of Orange, Counts 
Egmont, Bergen, Hogstraten, Horn, and several others 
of the higher nobility. The regent felt the necessity of 
bringing these doubtful subjects to an explanation, in 
order either to deprive the rebels of a fancied support 
or to unmask the enemies of the king. And the latter 


reason was of the more urgent moment when being 
obliged to send an army into the field it was of the 
utmost importance to entrust the command of the troops 
to none but those of whose fidelity she was fully assured. 
She caused, therefore, an oath to be drawn up which 
bound all who took it to advance the Roman Catholic 
faith, to pursue and punish the Iconoclasts, and to help 
by every means in their power in extirpating all kinds 
of heresy. It also pledged them to treat the king's 
enemies as their own, and to serve without distinction 
against all whom the regent in the king's name should 
point out. By this oath she did not hope so much to 
test their sincerity, and still less to secure them, as rather 
to gain a pretext for removing the suspected parties if 
they declined to take it, and for wresting from their 
hands a power which they abused, or a legitimate ground 
for j^unishing them if they took it and broke it. This 
oath was exacted from all Knights of the Fleece, all civil 
functionaries and magistrates, all officers of the army — 
from every one in short who held any appointment in the 
state. Count Mansfeld was the first who publicly took 
it in the council of state at Brussels ; his example was 
followed by the Duke of Arschot, Counts Egmont, Megen, 
and Barlaimont. Hogstraten and Horn endeavored to 
evade the necessity. The former was offended at a proof 
of distrust which shortly before the regent had given 
him. Under the pretext that Malines could not safely be 
left any longer without its governor, but that the presence 
of the count was no less necessary in Antwerp, she had 
taken from him that province and given it to another' 
whose fidelity she could better reckon upon. Hogstraten 
expressed his thanks that she had been pleased to release 
him from one of his burdens, adding that she would com- 
plete the obligation if she would relieve him from the 
other also. True to his determination Count Horn was 
living on one of his estates in the strong town of Weerdt, 
having retired altogether from public affairs. Having 
quitted the service of the state, he owed, he thought, 
nothing more either to the republic or to the king, and 
declined the oath, which in his case appears at last to 
liiave been waived. 



Schiller — Vol. Seven^p. 226 


The Count of Brederode was left the choice of either 
taking the prescribed oath or resigning the command of 
his squadron of cavalry. After many fruitless attempts 
to evade the alternative, on the plea that he did not hold 
office in the state, he at last resolved upon the latter 
course, and thereby escaped all risk of perjuring himself. 

Vain were all the attempts to prevail on the Prince of 
Orange to take the oath, who, from the suspicion which 
had long attached to him, required more than any other 
this purification ; and from whom the great power which 
it had been necessary to place in his hands fully justified 
the regent in exacting it. It was not, however, advisa- 
ble to proceed against him with the laconic brevity 
adopted towards Brederode and the like ; on the other 
hand, the voluntary resignation of all his offices, which 
he tendered, did not meet the object of the regent, who 
foresaw clearly enough how really dangerous he would 
become, as soon as he should feel himself independent, 
and be no longer checked by any external considerations 
of character or duty in the prosecution of his secret 
designs. But ever since the consultation in Dender- 
monde the Prince of Orange had made up his mind to 
quit the service of the King of Spain on the first favora- 
ble opportunity, and till better days to leave the country 
itself. A very disheartening experience had taught him 
how uncertain are hopes built on the multitude, and how 
quickly their zeal is cooled by the necessity of fulfilling 
its lofty promises. An army was already in the field, 
and a far stronger one was, he knew, on its road, under 
the command of the Duke of Alva. The time for re- 
monstrances was past ; it was only at the head of an army 
that an advantageous treaty could now be concluded 
with the regent, and by preventing the entrance of the 
Spanish general. But now where was he to raise this 
army, in want as he was of money, the sinews of warfare, 
since the Protestants had retracted their boastful prom- 
ises and deserted him in this pressing emergency?* 

* How valiant the wish, and how sorry the deed was, is proved by the 
following instance amongst others. Some friends of the national liberty, 
Koman Catholics as well as Protestants, had solemnly engaged in Amsterdam 
to subscribe to a common fund the hundredth penny of their estates, until 
a sum of eleven thousand florins should be collected, which was to be devoted 


Religious jealousy and hatred, moreover, separated the 
two Protestant churches, and stood in the way of every 
salutary combination against the common enemy of their 
faith. The rejection of the Confession of Augsburg by 
the Calvinists had exasperated all the Protestant princes 
of Germany, so that no support was to be looked for 
from the empire. With Count Egmont the excellent 
army of Walloons was also lost to the cause, for they 
followed with blind devotion the fortunes of their gen- 
eral, who had taught them at St. Quentin and Gravelines 
to be invincible. And again, the outrages which the 
Iconoclasts had perpetrated on the churches and con- 
vents had estranged from the league the numerous, 
wealthy, and powerful class of the established clergy, who, 
before this unlucky episode, were already more than 
half gained over to it ; while, by her intrigues, the regent 
daily contrived to deprive the league itself of some one 
or other of its most influential members. 

All these considerations combined induced the prince 
to postpone to a more favorable season a project for 
which the present juncture was little suited, and to leave 
a country where his longer stay could not effect any ad- 
vantage for it, but must bring certain destruction on 
himself. After intelligence gleaned from so many quar- 
ters, after so many proofs of distrust, so many warnings 
from Madrid, he could be no longer doubtful of the sen- 
timents of Philip towards him. If even he had any 
doubt, his uncertainty would soon have been dispelled by 
the formidable armament which was preparing in Spain, 
and which was to have for its leader, not the king, as was 
falsely given out, but, as he was better informed, the 
Duke of Alva, his personal enemy, and the very man he 
had most cause to fear. The prince had seen too deeply 
into Philip's heart to believe in the sincerity of his recon- 
ciliation after having once awakened his fears. He 
judged his own conduct too justly to reckon, like his 

to the common cause and interests. An alms-box, protected by three locks, 
was prepared for the reception of these contributions. After the expiration 
of the prescribed period it was opened, and a sum was found amounting 
to seven hundred florins, which w;is given to the hostess of the Count of 
Brederode, in part payment of his uuliquidated score. Univ. Hist, of the N., 


friend Egmont, on reaping a gratitude from the king to 
wJiich he had not sown. He could therefore expect 
nothing but hostility from him, and prudence counselled 
him to screen himself by a timeJy flight from its actual 
outbreak. He had hitherto obstinately refused to take 
the new oath, and all the written exhortations of the 
regent had been fruitlesSo At last she sent to him at 
Antwerp her private secretary, Berti, who was to put 
the matter emphatically to his conscience, and forcibly 
remind him of all the evil consequences which so sudden 
a retirement from the royal service would draw upon the 
country, as well as the irreparable injury it would clo to his 
own fair fame. Already, she informed him by her am- 
bassador, liis declining the required oath had cast a shade 
upon his honor, and imparted to the general voice, which 
accused him of an understanding with the rebels, an 
appearance of truth which this unconditional resignation 
would convert to absolute certainty. It was for the sov- 
ereign to discharge his servants, but it did not become 
the servant to abandon his sovereign. The envoy of the 
regent found the prince in his palace at Antwerp, 
already, as it appeared, withdrawn from the public ser- 
vice, and entirely devoted to his private concerns. The 
prince told him, in the presence of Hogstraten, that he 
had refused to take the required oath because he could 
not find that such a proposition had ever before been 
made to a governor of a province ; because he had already 
bound himself, once for all, to the king, and therefore, by 
taking this new oath, he would tacitly acknowledge that 
he had broken the first. He had also refused because 
the old oath enjoined him to protect the rights and priv- 
ileges of the country, but he could not tell whether this 
new one might not impose upon him duties which would 
contravene the first ; because, too, the clause which 
bound him to serve, if required, against all without dis- 
tinction, did not except even the emperor, his feudal 
lord, against whom, however, he, as his vassal, could not 
conscientiously make war. He had refused to take this 
oath because it might impose upon him the necessity of 
surrendering his friends and relations, his children, nay, 
even his wife, who was a Lutheran, to butchery. Aa 


cording to it, moreover, he must lend himself to every 
thing wliich it should occur to the king's fancy or passion 
to demand. But the king might thus exact from him 
things which he shuddered even to think of, and even 
the severities which were now, and had been all along, 
exercised upon the Protestants, were the most revolting 
to his heart. This oath, in short, was repugnant to his 
feelings as a man, and he could not take it. In con- 
clusion, the name of the Duke of Alva dropped from his 
lips in a tone of bitterness, and he became immediately 

All these objections were answered, point by point, by 
Berti. Certainly such an oath had never been required 
from a governor before him, because the provinces had 
never been similarly circumstanced. It was not exacted 
because the governors had broken the first, but in order to 
remind them vividly of their former vows, and to freshen 
their activity in the present emergency. This oath 
would not impose upon him anything which offended 
against the rights and privileges of the country, for the 
king had sworn to observe these as well as the Prince of 
Orange. The oath did not, it was true, contain any ref- 
erence to a war with the emperor, or any other sov- 
ereign to whom the prince might be related ; and if he 
really had scruples on this point, a distinct clause could 
easily be inserted, expressly providing against such a 
contingency. Care would be taken to spare him any 
duties which were repugnant to his feelings as a man, 
and no power on earth would compel him to act against 
his wife or against his children. Berti was then passing 
to the last point, which related to the Duke of Alva, but 
the prince, who did not wish to have this part of his dis- 
course canvassed, interrupted him. " The king was com- 
ing to the Netherlands," he said, "and he knew the 
king. The king would not endure that one of his ser- 
vants should have wedded a Lutheran, and he had there- 
fore resolved to go with his whole family into voluntary 
banishment before he was obliged to submit to the same 
by compulsion. But," he concluded, " wherever he might 
be, he would always conduct himself as a subject of the 
king." Thus far-fetched were the motives which the 


prince adduced to avoid touching upon the single one 
which really decided him. 

Berti had still a hope of obtaining, through Egmont's 
eloquence, what by his own he despaired of effecting. 
He therefore proposed a meeting with the latter (1567), 
which the prince assented to the more willingly as he 
himself felt a desire to embrace his friend once more 
before his departure, and if possible to snatch the deluded 
man from certain destruction. This remarkable meeting, 
at which the private secretary, Berti, and the young 
Count Mansfeld, were also present, was the last that the 
two friends ever held, and took place in Villebroeck, a 
village on the Rupel, between Brussels and Antwerp. 
The Calvinists, whose last hope rested on the issue of 
this conference, found means to acquaint themselves of 
its import by a spy, who concealed himself in the 
chimney of the apartment where it was held. All three 
attempted to shake the determination of the prince, but 
their united eloquence was unable to move him from his 
purpose. " It will cost you your estates, Orange, if you 
persist in this intention," said the Prince of Gaure, as he 
took him aside to a window. " And you your life, Eg- 
mont, if you change not yours," replied the former. 
'' To me it will at least be a consolation in my misfor- 
tunes that I desired, in deed as well as in word, to help 
my country and my friends in the hour of need; but 
you, my friend, you are dragging friends and country 
with you to destruction." And saying these words, he 
once again exhorted him, still more urgently than ever, 
to return to the cause of his country, which his arm alone 
was yet able to preserve ; if not, at least for his own 
sake to avoid the tempest which was gathering against 
him from Spain. 

But all the arguments, however lucid, with which a 
far-discerning prudence supplied him, and however ur- 
gently enforced, with all the ardor and animation which 
the tender anxiety of friendship could alone inspire, did 
not avail to destroy the fatal confidence which still fet- 
tered Egmont's better reason. The warning of Orange 
seemed to come from a sad and dispirited heart ; but for 
Egmont the world still smiled. To abandon the poi^p 


and affluence in which he had grown up to youth and 
manhood ; to part with all the thousand conveniences of 
life which alone made it valuable to him, and all this to 
escape an evil which his buoyant spirit regarded as 
remote, if not imaginary; no, that was not a sacrifice 
which could be asked from Egmont. But had he even 
been less given to indulgence than he was, with what 
heart could he have consigned a princess, accustomed by 
uninterrupted prosperity to ease and comfort, a wife who 
loved him as dearly as she was beloved, the children on 
whom his soul hung in hope and fondness, to privations 
at the prospect of which his own courage sank, and which 
a sublime philosophy alone can enable sensuality to un- 
dergo. " You will never persuade me. Orange," said 
Egmont, "to see things in the gloomy light in which 
they appear to thy mournful prudence. When I have 
succeeded in abolishing the public preachings, and chas- 
tising the Iconoclasts, in crushing the rebels, and restoring 
peace and order in the provinces, what can tlie king lay 
to my charge? The king is good and just; I have 
claims upon his gratitude, and I must not forget what I 
owe to myself." " Well, then," cried Orange, indignantly 
and with bitter anguish, "trust, if you will, to this royal 
gratitude ; but a mournful presentiment tells me — and 
may Heaven grant that I am deceived! — that you, Eg- 
mont, will be the bridge by which the Spaniards will 
pass into our country to destroy it." After these words, 
he drew him to his bosom, ardently clasping him in his 
arms. Long, as though the sight was to serve for the 
remainder of his life, did he keep his eyes fixed upon 
him ; the tears fell ; they saw each other no more. 

The very next day the Prince of Orange wrote his 
letter of resignation to the regent, in which he assured 
her of his perj)etual esteem, and once again entreated her 
to put the best interpretation on his present step. He 
then set off with his three brothers and his whole family 
for his own town of Breda, where he remained only as 
long as was requisite to arrange some private affairs. His 
eldest son, Prince Philip William, was left behind at the 
University of Louvain, where he tliought him sufficiently 
secure under the protection of the privileges of BrabajQI^ 


and the immunities of the academy; an imprudence 
which, if it was really not designed, can hardly be recon- 
ciled with the just estimate which, in so many other cases, 
he had taken of the character of his adversary. In Breda 
the heads of the Calvin ists once more consulted him 
whether there was still hope for them, or whether all was 
irretrievably lost. "He had before advised them," replied 
the prince, " and must now do so again, to accede to the 
Confession of Augsburg ; then they might rely upon aid 
from Germany. If they would still not consent to this, 
they must raise six hundred thousand florins, or more, 
if they could." " The first," they answered, " was at 
variance with their conviction and their conscience ; but 
means might perhaps be found to raise the money if he 
would only let them know for what purpose he would 
use it. " No ! " cried he, with the utmost displeasure, 
" if I must tell you that, it is all over with the use of it." 
With these words he immediately broke off the confer- 
ence and dismissed the deputies. 

The Prince of Orange was reproached with having 
squandered his fortune, and with favoring the innovations 
on account of his debts ; but he asserted that he still 
enjoyed sixty thousand florins yearly rental. Before his 
departure he borrowed twenty thousand florins from the 
states of Holland on the mortgage of some manors. Men 
could hadly persuade themselves that he would have 
succumbed to necessity so entirely, and without an effort 
at resistance given up all his hopes and schemes. But 
what he secretly meditated no one knew, no one had read 
in his heart. Being asked how he intended to conduct 
himself towards the King of Spain, " Quietly," was his 
answer, " unless he touches my honor or my estates." He 
left the Netherlands soon afterwards, and betook himself 
in retirement to the town of Dillenburg, in Nassau, at 
which place he was born. He was accompanied to Ger- 
many by many hundreds, either as his servants or as 
volunteers, and was soon followed by Counts Hogstraten, 
Kuilemberg, and Bergen, who preferred to share a volun- 
tary exile with him rather than recklessly involve them- 
selves in an uncertain destiny. In his departure the 
nation saw the flight of its guardian angel; many had 


adored, all had honored him. With him the last stay of 
the Protestants gave way; they, however, had greater 
hopes from this man in exile than from all the others 
together who remained behind. Even the Roman Cath- 
olics could not witness his departure without regret. 
Them also had he shielded from tyranny ; he had not un- 
frequently protected them against the oppression of their 
own church, and he had rescued many of them from the 
sanguinary jealousy of their religious opponents. A few 
fanatics amons: the Calvinists, who were offended with 
his proposal of an alliance with their brethren, who 
avowed the Confession of Augsburg, solemnized with 
secret thanksgivings the day on which the enemy left 
them. (1567). 


Immediately after taking leave of his friend, the Prince 
of Gaure hastened back to Brussels, to receive from the 
regent the reward of his firmness, and there, in the excite- 
ment of the court and in the sunshine of his good fortune, 
to dispel the light cloud which the earnest warnings of 
the Prince of Orange had cast over his natural gayety. 
The flight of the latter now left him in possession of the 
stage. He had now no longer any rival in the republic 
to dim his glory. With redoubled zeal he wooed the 
transient favor of the court, above which he ought to have 
felt himself far exalted. All Brussels must participate in 
his joy. He gave splendid banquets and public enter- 
tainments, at which, the better to eradicate all suspicion 
from his mind, the regent herself frequently attended. 
Not content with having taken the required oath, he out- 
stripped the most devout in devotion ; outran the most 
zealous in zeal to extirpate the Protestant faith, and to 
reduce by force of arms the refractory towns of Flanders. 
He declared to his old friend. Count Hogstraten, as also 
to the rest of the Gueux, that he would withdraw from 
them his friendship forever if they hesitated any longer 
to return into the bosom of the church, and reconcile 
themselves with their king. All the confidential letters 
vhicb had been exchanged between him and them were 


returned, and by this last step the breach between them 
was made public and irreparable. Egmont's secession, 
and the flight of the Prince of Orange, destroyed the last 
hope of the Protestants and dissolved the whole league 
of the Gueux. Its members vied with each other in 
readiness — nay, they could not soon enough abjure 
the covenant and take the new oath proposed to 
them by the government. In vain did the Protestant 
merchants exclaim at this breach of faith on the part of 
the nobles ; their weak voice was no longer listened to, 
and all the sums were lost with which they bad supplied 
the league. 

The most important places were quickly reduced and 
garrisoned ; the rebels had fled, or perished by the hand 
of the executioner ; in the provinces no protector was left. 
All yielded to the fortune of the regent, and her victorious 
army was advancing against Antwerp. After a long and 
obstinate contest this town had been cleared of the worst 
rebels ; Hermann and his adherents took to flight ; the 
internal storms had spent their rage. The minds of the 
people became gradually composed, and no longer excited 
at will by every furious fanatic, began to listen to better 
counsels. The wealthier citizens earnestly longed for 
peace to revive commerce and trade, which had suffered 
severely from the long reign of anarchy. The dread of 
Alva's approach worked wonders ; in order to prevent the 
miseries which a Spanish army would inflict upon the 
country, the people hastened to throw themselves on the 
gentler mercies of the regent. Of their own accord they 
despatched plenipotentiaries to Brussels to negotiate for 
a treaty and to hear her terms. Agreeably as the regent 
was surprised by this voluntary step, she did not allow 
herself to be hurried away by her joy. She declared that 
she neither could nor would listen to any overtures or 
representations until the town had received a garrison. 
Even this was no longer opposed, and Count Mansfeld 
marched in the day after with sixteen squadrons in battle 
array. A solemn treaty was now made between the town 
and duchess, by which the former bound itself to prohibit 
the Calvinistic form of worship, to banisli all preachers of 
that persuasion, to restore the Roman Catholic religion 

16— Schiller Yol. VIL 


to its former dignity, to decorate the despoiled churches 
with their lormer ornaments, to administer the old edicts 
as before, to lake the new oath which the other towns 
had sworn to, and, lastly, to deliver into the hands of 
justice all who been guilty of treason, in bt^iring arms, or 
taking part in tne desecration of the churches. On the 
other hand, the regent pledged herself to forget all that 
had passed, and even to intercede for the offenders Avith 
the king. All those who, being dubious of obtaining 
pardon, preferred banishment, were to be allowed a month 
to convert their property into money, and place them- 
selves in safety. From this grace none were to be ex- 
cluded but such as had been guilty of a capital offence, 
and who were excepted by the previous article. Imme- 
diately upon the conclusion of this treaty all Calvinist 
and Lutheran preachers in Antwerp, and the adjoining 
territory, were warned by the herald to quit the country 
within twenty-four hours. All the streets and gates were 
now thronged with fugitives, who for the honor of their 
God abandoned what was dearest to them, and sought a 
more peaceful home for tneir persecuted faith. Here 
husbands were taking an eternal farewell of their wives, 
fatliers of their children ; there whole families were pre- 
paring to depart. All Antwerp resembled a house of 
mourning ; wherever the eye turned some affecting spec- 
tacle of painful separation presented itself. A seal was 
set on the doors of the Protestant churches ; the whole 
worship seemed to be extinct. The 10th of April (1567) 
was the day appointed for the departure of the preachers. 
In the town hall, where they appeared for the last 
time to take leave of the magistrate, they could not 
command their grief ; but broke forth into bitter re- 
proaches. They had been sacrificed, they exclaimed, they 
had been shamefully betrayed ; out a time would come 
when Antwerp would pay dearly enough for this baseness. 
Still more bitter were the complaints of the Lutheran 
clergy, whom the magistrate hii^self had invited into the 
country to preach against thn Calvinists. Under the 
delusive representation that the King was not unfavorable 
to their religion they had beer- seduced into a combina^ 
tion against the Calvinists, but as soon as the latter had 


been by their co-operation brought under subjection, and 
their own services were no longer required, they were left 
to bewail their folly, which had involved themselves and 
their enemies in common ruin. 

A few days afterwards the regent entered Antwerp in 
triumph, accompanied by a thousand Walloon horse, the 
Knights of the Golden Fleece, all the governors and coun- 
sellors, a number of municipal officers, and her whole 
court. Her first visit was to the cathedral, which still 
bore lamentable traces of the violence of the Iconoclasts, 
and drew from her many and bitter tears. Immediately 
afterwards four of the rebels, who had been overtaken in 
their flight, were brought in and executed in the public 
market-place. All the children who had been baptized 
after the Protestant rites were rebaptized by Roman 
Catholic priests ; all the schools of heretics were closed, 
and their churches levelled to the ground. Nearly all the 
towns in the Netherlands followed the example of Antwerp 
and banished the Protestant preachers. By the end of 
April the Roman Catholic churches were repaired and em- 
bellished more splendidly than ever, while all the Prot- 
estant places of worship were pulled down, and every 
vestige of the proscribed belief obliterated in the seventeen 
provinces. The populace, whose sympathies are generally 
with the successful party, was now as active in accelerating 
the ruin of the unfortunate as a short time before it had 
been furiously zealous in its cause ; in Ghent a large and 
beautiful church which the Calvinists had erected was 
attacked, and in less than an hour had wholly disappeared. 
From the beams of the roofless churches gibbets were 
erected for those who had profaned the sanctuaries of 
the Roman Catholics. The places of execution were filled 
with corpses, the prisons with condemned victims, the high 
roads with fugitives. Innumerable were the victims of 
this year of murder ; in the smallest towns fifty at least, 
in several of the larger as many as three hundred, were 
put to death, while no account was kept of the numbers 
in the open country who fell into the hands of the provost- 
marshal and were immediately strung up as miscreants, 
without trial and without mercy. 

The regent was still in Antwerp when ambassadors 


presented themselves from the Electors of Brandenburg, 
Saxony, Hesse, Wurtemberg, and Baden to intercede for 
their fugitive brethren in the faith. The expelled preach- 
ers of the Augsburg Confession had claimed the rights 
assured to them by the religious peace of the Germans, 
in which Brabant, as part of the empire, participated, and 
had thrown themselves on the protection of those princes. 
The arrival of the foreign ministers alarmed the regent, 
find she vainly endeavored to prevent their entrance into 
Antwerp ; under the guise, however, of showing them 
marks of honor, she continued to keep them closely 
watched lest they should encourage the malcontents in 
any attempts against the peace of the town. From the 
high tone which they most unreasonably adopted towards 
the regent it might almost be inferred that they were 
little in earnest in their demand. " It was but reasonable," 
they said, " that the Confession of Augsburg, as the only 
one which met the spirit of the gospel, should be the 
ruling faith in the Netherlands ; but to persecute it by 
such cruel edicts as were in force was positively unnatural 
and could not be allowed. They therefore required of 
the regent, in the name of religion, not to treat the people 
entrusted to her rule with such severity. She replied 
through the Count of Staremberg, her minister for 
German affairs, that such an exordium deserved no answer 
at all. From the sympathy which the German princes 
had shown for the Belgian fugitives it was clear that they 
gave less credit to the letters of the king, in explanation 
of his measures, than to the reports of a few worthless 
wretches who, in the desecrated churches, had left behind 
them a worthier memorial of their acts and characters. 
It would far more become them to leave to the King of 
Spain the care of his own subjects, and abandon the 
attempt to foster a spirit of rebellion in foreign countries, 
from which they would reap neither honor nor profit. The 
ambassadors left Antwerp in a few days without having 
effected anything. The Saxon minister, indeed, in a 
private interview with the regent even assured her that 
his master had most reluctantly taken this step. 

The German ambassadors had not quitted Antwerp 
when intelligence from Holland completed the triumph 


of the regent. From fear of Count Megen Count Brede- 
rode had deserted his town of Viane, and with the aid of 
the Protestants inhabitants had succeeded in throwing 
himself into Amsterdam, where his arrival caused great 
alarm to the city magistrate, who had previously found 
difficulty in preventing a revolt, while it revived the 
courage of the Protestants. Here Brederode's adherents 
increased daily, and many noblemen flocked to him from 
Utrecht, Friesland, and Groningen, whence the victorious 
arms of Megen and Aremberg had driven them. Under 
various disguises they found means to steal into the city, 
where they gathered round Brederode, and served him 
as a strong body-guard. The regent, apprehensive of a 
new outbreak, sent one of her private secretaries, Jacob 
de la Torre, to the council of Amsterdam, and ordered 
them to get rid of Count Brederode on any terms and at 
any risk. Neither the magistrate nor de la Torre him- 
self, who visited Brederode in person to acquaint him 
with the will of the duchess, could prevail upon him to 
depart. The secretary was even surprised in his own 
chamber by a party of Brederode's followers, and deprived 
of all his papers, and would, perhaps, have lost his life 
also if he had not contrived to make his escape. Brede- 
rode remained in Amsterdam a full month after this 
occurrence, a powerless idol of the Protestants, and an 
oppressive burden to the Roman Catholics; while his fine 
army, which he had left in Viane, reinforced by many 
fugitives from the southern provinces, gave Count Megen 
enough to do without attempting to harass the Protestants 
in their flight. At last Brederode resolved to follow the 
example of Orange, and, yielding to necessity, abandon a 
desperate cause. He informed the town council that he 
was willing to leave Amsterdam if they would enable 
him to do so by furnishing him with the pecuniary means. 
Glad to get quit of him, they hastened to borrow the 
money on the security of the town council. Brederode 
quitted Amsterdam the same night, and was conveyed in 
a gunboat as far as Vlie, fiom whence he fortunately 
escaped to Embden. Fate treated him more mildly than 
the majority of those he had implicated in his foolhardy 
enterprise ; he died the year after, 1568, at one of his 


castles in Germany, from the effects of drinking, by wliich 
he sought ultimately to drown his grief and disappoint- 
ments. His widow, Countess of Moers in her own right, 
was remarried to the Prince Palatine, Frederick III. The 
Protestant cause lost but little by his demise ; the work 
which he had commenced, as it had not been kept alive 
by him, so it did not die with him. 

The little army, which in his disgraceful flight he had 
deserted, was bold and valiant, and had a few resolute 
leaders. It disbanded, indeed, as soon as he, to whom it 
looked for pay, had fled ; but hunger and courage kept 
its parts together some time longer. One body, under 
command of Dietrich of Battenburgh, marched to 
Amsterdam in the hope of carrying that town ; but 
Count Megen hastened with thirteen companies of ex- 
cellent troops to its relief, and compelled the rebels to 
give up the attempt. Contenting themselves with plun- 
dering the neighboring cloisters, among which the abbey 
of Egmont in particular was hardly dealt with, they 
turned off towards Waaterland, where they hoped the 
numerous swamps would protect them from pursuit. But 
thither Count Megen followed them, and compelled them 
in all haste to seek safety in the Zuyderzee. The brothers 
Van Battenburg, and two Friesan nobles, Beima and 
Galama, with a hundred and twenty men and the booty 
they had taken from the monasteries, embarked near the 
town of Hoorne, intending to cross to Friesland, but 
through the treachery of the steersman, who ran the 
vessel on a sand-bank near Harlingen, they fell into the 
hands of one of Aremberg's captains, who took them all 
prisoners. The Count of Aremberg immediately pro- 
nounced sentence upon all the captives of plebeian rank, 
but sent his noble prisoners to the regent, who caused 
seven of them to be beheaded. Seven others of the most 
noble, including the brothers Van Battenburg and some 
Frieslanders, all in the bloom of youth, were reserved for 
the Duke of Alva, to enable him to signalize the commence- 
ment of his administration by a deed which was in every 
way worthy of him. The troops in four other vessels 
which set sail from Medenblick, and were pursued by Count 
Megen in small boats, were more successful. A contrary 


wind had forced them out of their course and driven them 
ashore on the coast of Gueldres, where they all got safe 
to land ; crossing the Rhine, near Heusen, they fortunately 
escaped into Cleves, where they tore their flags i«n pieces 
and dispersed. In North Holland Count Megen overtook 
some squadrons who had lingered too long in plundering 
the cloisters, and completely overpowered them. He 
afterwards formed a junction with IsToircarmes and 
garrisoned Amsterdam. The Duke Erich of Brunswick 
also surprised three companies, the last remains of the 
army of the Gueux, near Viane, where they were endeav- 
oring to take a battery, routed them and captured their 
leader, Rennesse, who was shortly afterwards beheaded 
at the castle of Freud enburg, in Utrecht. Subsequently, 
when Duke Erich entered Viane, he found nothing but 
deserted streets, the inhabitants having left it with the 
garrison on the first alarm. He immediately razed the 
fortifications, and reduced this arsenal of the Gueux to 
an open town without defences. All the originators of 
the league were now dispersed ; Brederode and Louis of 
Nassau had fled to Germany, and Counts Hogstraten, 
Bergen, and Kuilemberg had followed their example. 
Mansfeld had seceded, the brothers Van Battenburg 
awaited in prison an ignomonious fate, while Thoulouse 
alone had found an honorable death on the field of battle. 
Those of the confederates who had escaped the sword of 
the enemy and the axe of the executioner had saved 
nothing but their lives, and thus the title which they 
had assumed for show became at last a terrible reality. 

Such was the inglorious end of the noble league, which 
in its beginning awakened such fair hopes and promised 
to become a powerful protection against oppression. 
Unanimity was its strength, distrust and internal dissen- 
sion its ruin. It brought to light and developed many 
rare and beautiful virtues, but it wanted the most indis- 
pensable of all, prudence and moderation, without which 
any undertaking must miscarry, and all the fruits of the 
most laborious industry perish. If its objects had been 
as pure as it pretended, or even had they remained as 
pure as they really were at its first establishment, it might 
have defied the unfortunate combination of circumstances 


which prematurely overwhelmed it, and even if unsuc- 
cessful it would still have deserved an honorable mention 
in history. But it is too evident that the confederate 
nobles, whether directly or indirectly, took a greater 
share in the frantic excesses of the Iconoclasts than com- 
ported with the dignity and blamelessness of their con- 
federation, and many among them openly exchanged 
their own good cause for the mad enterprise of these 
worthless vagabonds. The restriction of the Inquisition 
and a mitigation of the cruel inhumanity of the edicts 
must be laid to the credit of the league ; but this tran- 
sient relief was dearly purchased, at the cost of so many 
of the best and bravest citizens, who either lost their 
lives in the field, or in exile carried their wealth and 
industry to another quarter of the world ; and of the 
presence of Alva and the Spanish arms. Many, too, of 
its peaceable citizens, who without its dangerous tempta- 
tions would never have been seduced from the ranks of 
peace and order, were beguiled by the hope of success 
into the most culpable enterprises, and by their failure 
plunged into ruin and misery. But it cannot be denied 
that the league atoned in some measure for these wrongs 
by positive benefits. It brought together and emboldened 
many whom a selfish pusillanimity kept asunder and in- 
active ; it diffused a salutary public spirit amongst the 
Belgian people, w^hich the oppression of the government 
had almost entirely extinguished, and gave unanimity 
and a common voice to the scattered members of the 
nation, the absence of w^hich alone makes despots bold. 
The attempt, indeed, failed, and the knots, too carelessly 
tied, were quickly unloosed ; but it was through such 
failures that the nation was eventually to attain to a firm 
and lasting union, which should bid defiance to change. 

The total destruction of the Geusen army quickly 
brought the Dutch towns also back to their obedience, 
and in the provinces there remained not a single place 
which had not submitted to the regent; but the in- 
creasing emigration, both of the natives and the foreign 
residents, threatened the country with depopulation. In 
Amsterdam the crowd of fus^itives was so oreat that 

• ' "XT 

vessels were wantmg to convey them across tue ^ortlj 


Sea and the Zuyderzee, and that flourishing emporium 
beheld with dismay the approaching downfall of its pros- 
perity. Alarmed at this general flight, the regent has- 
tened to write letters to all the towns, to encourage the 
citizens to remain, and by fair promises to revive a hope 
of better and milder measures. In the king's name she 
promised to all who would freely swear to obey the state 
and the church complete indemnity, and by public proc- 
lamation invited the fugitives to trust to the royal clem- 
ency and return to their homes. She engaged also to 
relieve the nation from the dreaded presence of a Spanish 
army, even if it were already on the frontiers ; nay, she 
went so far as to drop hints that, if necessary, means 
might be found to prevent it by force from entering the 
provinces, as she was fully determined not to relinquish 
to another the glory of a peace which it had cost her so 
much labor to effect. Few, however, returned in reliance 
upon her word, and these few had cause to repent it in 
the sequel; many thousands had already quitted the 
country, and several thousands more quickly followed 
them. Germany and England were filled with Flemish 
emigrants, who, wherever they settled, retained their 
usages and manners, and even their costume, unwilling 
to come to the painful conclusion that they should never 
again see their native land, and to give up all hopes of 
return. Few carried with them any remains of their 
former affluence; the greater portion had to beg their 
way, and bestowed on their adopted country nothing but 
industrious skill and honest citizens. 

And now the regent hastened to report to the king 
tidings such as, during her whole administration, she had 
never before been able to gratify him with. She an- 
nounced to him that she had succeeded in restoring quiet 
throughout the provinces, and that she thought herself 
strong enough to maintain it. The sects were extirpated, 
and the Roman Catholic worship re-established in all its 
former splendor ; the rebels had either already met with, 
or were awaiting in prison, the punishmen^^ they de- 
served ; the towns were secured by adequate garrisons. 
There was therefore no necessity for sending Spanish 
troops into the Iifletherlands, and nothing to justify their 


entrance. Their arrival would tend to destroy the exist 
ing repose, which it had cost so much to establish, would 
check the much-desired revival of commerce and trade, 
and, while it would involve the country in new expenses, 
would at the same time deprive them of the only means 
of supporting them. The mere rumor of the approach 
of a Spanish army had stripped the country of many 
thousands of its most valuable citizens ; its actual ap- 
pearance would reduce it to a desert. As there was no 
longer any enemy to subdue, or rebellion to suppress, the 
people would see no motive for the march of this army 
but punishment and revenge, and under this supposition 
its arrival would neither be welcomed nor honored. No 
longer excused by necessity, this violent expedient would 
assume the odious aspect of oppression, would exasperate 
the national mind afresh, drive the Protestants to des- 
peration, and arm their brethren in other countries in 
their defence. The regent, she said, had in the king's 
name promised the nation it should be relieved from this 
foreign army, and to this stipulation she was principally 
indebted for the present peace; she could not therefore 
guarantee its long continuance if her pledge was not 
faithfully fulfilled. The Netherlands would receive him 
as their sovereign, the king, with every mark of attach- 
ment and veneration, but he must come as a father to 
bless, not as a despot to chastise them. Let him come 
to enjoy the peace which she had bestowed on the coun- 
try, but not to destroy it afresh. 

alva's armament and expedition to the nether. 


But it was otherw^ise determined in the council at 
Madrid. The minister, Granvella, who, even while ab- 
sent himself, ruled the Spanish cabinet by his adherents ; 
the Cardinal Grand Inquisitor, Spinosa, and the Duke of 
Alva, swayed respectively by hatred, a spirit of persecu- 
tion, or private interest, had outvoted the milder councils 
of the Prince Ruy Gomes of Eboli, the Count of Feria, 
and the king's confessor, Fresneda. The insurrection, it 
was urged by the former, was indeed quelled for the 


present, but only because the rebels were awed by the 
rumor of the king's armed Rpin^oach ; it was to fear 
of punishment alone, and not to sorrow for their crime, 
that the present calm was to be ascribed, and it would 
soon again be broken if that feeling were allowed to sub- 
side. In fact, the offences of the people fairly afforded 
the king the opportunity he had so long desired of carry- 
ing out his despotic views with an appearance of justice. 
The peaceable settlement for which the regent took 
credit to herself was very far from according with his 
wishes, which sought rather for a legitimate pretext to 
deprive the provinces of their privileges, which were so 
obnoxious to his despotic temper. 

With an impenetrable dissimulation Philip had hitherto 
fostered the general delusion that he was about to visit 
the provinces in person, while all along nothing could 
have been more remote from his real intentions. Trav- 
elling at any time ill suited the methodical regularity of 
his life, which moved with the precision of clockwork ; 
and his narrow and sluggish intellect was oppressed by 
the variety and multitude of objects with which new 
scenes crowded it. The difficulties and dangers which 
would attend a journey to the Netherlands must, there- 
fore, have been peculiarly alarming to his natural timidity 
and love of ease. Why should he, who, in all that he 
did, was accustomed to consider himself alone, and to 
make men accommodate themselves to his principles, not 
his principles to men, undertake so perilous an expedition, 
when he could see neither the advantage nor necessity of 
it. Moreover, as it had ever been to him an utter impos- 
sibility to separate, even for a moment, his person from 
his royal dignity, which no prince ever guarded so tena- 
ciously and pedantically as himself, so the magnificence 
and ceremony which in his mind were inseparably con- 
nected with such a journey, and the expenses which, on 
this account, it would necessarily occasion, were of them- 
selves sufficient motives to account for his indisposition 
to it, without its being at all requisite to call in the aid 
of the influence of his favorite, Ruy Gomes, who is said 
to have desired to separate his rival, the Duke of Alva, 
from the king. Little, however, as he seriously intended 


this journey, he still deemed it advisable to keep up the 
expectation of it, as well with a view of sustaining 
the courage of the loyal as of preventing a dangerouf* 
combination of the disaffected, and stopping the further 
progress of the rebels. 

In order to carry on the deception as long as possible, 
Philip made extensive preparations for his departure, and 
neglected nothing which could be required for such an 
event. He ordered ships to be fitted out, appointed the 
officers and others to attend him. To allay the suspicion 
such warlike preparations might excite in all foreign 
courts, they were informed through his ambassadors of 
his real design. He applied to the King of France for a 
passage for himself and attendants through that king- 
dom, and consulted the Duke of Savoy as to the prefer- 
able route. He caused a list to be drawn up of all the 
towns and fortified places that lay in his march, and 
directed all the intermediate distances to be accurately 
laid down. Orders were issued for taking a map and 
survey of the whole extent of country between Savoy 
and Burgundy, the duke being requested to furnish the re- 
quisite surveyors and scientific officers. To such lengths 
was the deception carried that the regent was commanded 
to hold eight vessels at least in readiness off Zealand, and 
to despatch them to meet the king the instant she heard 
of his having sailed from Spain ; and these ships she ac- 
tually got ready, and caused prayers to be offered up in 
all the churches for the king's safety during the voyage, 
though in secret many persons did not scruple to remark 
that in his chamber at Madrid his majesty would not 
have much cause to dread the storms at sea. Philip 
played his part with such masterly skill that the Belgian 
ambassadors at Madrid, Lords Bergen and Montigny, 
who at first had disbelieved in the sincerity of his pre- 
tended journey, began at last to be alarmed, and 'nfected 
their friends in Brussels with similar apprehensions. An 
attack of tertian ague, which about this time the king 
suffered, or perhaps feigned, in Segovia, afforded a plaus- 
ible pretence for postponing his journey, while meantime 
the preparations for it were carried on with the utmost 
activity. At last, when the urgent and repeated solicitar 


tions of his sister compelled him to make a definite 
explanation of his plans, he gave orders that the Duke of 
Alva should set out forthwith with an army, both to 
clear the way before him of rebels, and to enhance the 
splendor of his own royal arrival. He did not yet ven- 
ture to throw off the mask and announce the duke as his 
substitute. He had but too much reason to fear that the 
submission which his Flemish nobles would cheerfully 
yield to their sovereign would be refused to one of his 
servants, whose cruel character was well known, and who, 
moreover, was detested as a foreigner and the enemy 
of their constitution. And, in fact, the universal belief 
that the king was soon to follow, which long survived 
Alva's entrance into the country, restrained the outbreak 
of disturbances which otherwise would assuredly have 
been caused by the cruelties which marked the very 
opening of the duke's government. 

The clergy of Spain, and especially the Inquisition, 
contributed richly towards the expenses of this expedition 
as to a holy war. Throughout Spain the enlisting was 
carried on with the utmost zeal. The viceroys and gov- 
ernors of Sardinia, Sicily, Naples, and Milan received 
orders to select the best of their Italian and Spanish 
troops in the garrisons and despatch them to the general 
rendezvous in the Genoese territory, where the Duke of 
Alva would exchange them for the Spanish recruits which 
he should bring with him. At the same time the regent 
was commanded to hold in readiness a few more regi- 
ments of German infanty in Luxembourg, under the com- 
mand of the Counts Eberstein, Schaumburg, and Lodrona, 
and also some squadrons of light cavalry in the Duchy of 
Burgundy to reinforce the Spanish general immediately 
on his entrance into the provinces. The Count of Barlai- 
mont was commissioned to furnish the necessary provision 
for the armament, and a sum of two hundred thousand 
gold florins was remitted to the regent to enable her to 
meet these expenses and to maintain her own troops. 

The French court, however, under pretence of the dan- 
ger to be apprehended from the Huguenots, had refused to 
allow the Spanish army to pass through France. Phill]i 
applied to the Dukes of Savoy and Lorraine, who were too 


dependent upon him to refuse his request. The former 
merely stipulated that he should be allowed to main- 
tain two thousand infantry and a squadron of horse 
at the king's expense in order to protect his country 
from the injuries to which it might otherwise be ex 
posed from the passage of the Spanish array. At the 
same time he undertook to provide the necessary supplies 
for its maintenance during the transit. 

The rumor of this arrangement roused the Huguenots, 
the Genevese, the Swiss, and the Grisons. The Prince of 
Conde and the Admiral Coligny entreated Charles IX. not 
to neglect so favorable a moment of inflicting a deadly 
blow on the hereditary foe of France. With the aid of 
the Swiss, the Genevese, and his own Protestant subjects, 
it would, they alleged, be an easy matter to destroy the 
flower of the Spanish troops in the narrow passes of 
the Alpine mountains ; and they promised to support him 
in this undertaking with an army of fifty thousand Hugue- 
nots. This advice, however, whose dangerous object 
was not easily to be mistaken, was plausibly declined by 
Charles IX., who assured them that he was both able and 
anxious to provide for the security of his kingdom. He 
hastily despatched troops to cover the French frontiers ; 
and the republics of Geneva, Bern, Zurich, and the 
Grisons followed his example, all ready to offer a deter- 
mined opposition to the dreaded enemy of their religion 
and their liberty. 

On the 5th of May, 1567, the Duke of Alva set sail from 
Carthagena with thirty galleys, which had been furnished 
by Andrew Doria and the Duke Cosmo of Florence, and 
within eight days landed at Genoa, where the four regi- 
ments were waiting to join him. But a tertian ague, 
with which he was seized shortly after his arrival, com- 
pelled him to remain for some days inactive in Lom- 
bardy — a delay of which tne neighboring powers availed 
themselves to prepare for defence. As soon as the duke 
recovered he held at Asti, in Montferrat, a review of ail 
his troops, who were more formidable by their valor than 
by their numbers, since cavalry and infantry together did 
not amount to much above ten thousand men. In his 
long and perilous march he did not wish to encumber 


himself with useless supernumeraries, which would only 
impede his progress and increase the difficulty of sup- 
porting his army. These ten thousand veterans were to 
form the nucleus of a greater army, which, according as 
circumstances and occasion might require, he could easily 
assemble in the Netherlands themselves. 

This army, however, was as select as it was small. It 
consisted of the remains of those victorious lescions at 
whose head Charles V. had made Europe tremble ; san- 
guinary, indomitable bands, in whose battalions the firm- 
ness of the old Macedonian phalanx lived again ; rapid in 
their evolutions from long practice, hardy and enduring, 
proud of their leader's success, and confident from past 
victories, formidable by their licentiousness, but still more 
so by their discipline ; let loose with all the passions of a 
warmer climate upon a rich and peaceful country, and 
inexorable towards an enemy whom the church had 
cursed. Their fanatical and sanguinary spirit, their thirst 
for glory and innate courage was aided by a rude sensual- 
ity, the instrument by which the Spanish general firmly 
and surely ruled his otherwise intractable troops. With 
a prudent indulgence he allowed riot and voluptuousness 
to reign throughout the camp. Under his tacit connivance 
Italian courtezans followed the standards; even in the 
march across the Apennines, where the high price of 
the necessaries of life compelled him to reduce his force 
to the smallest possible number, he preferred to have a 
few regiments less rather than to leave behind these 
instruments of voluptuousness.^ 

But industriously as Alva strove to relax the morals of 
his soldiers, he enforced the more rigidly a strict military 
discipline, which was interrupted only by a victory or 
rendered less severe by a battle. For all this he had, he 
said, the authority of the Athenian General Iphicrates, 
who awarded the prize of valor to the pleasure-loving 
and rapacious soldier. The more irksome the restraint 

* The bacchanalian procession of this army contrasted strangely enough 
with the gloomy seriousness and pretended sanctity of his aim. The number 
of these women was so great that to restrain the disordei s and quarrelling 
among themselves they hit upon the expedient of establishing a discipline of 
their own. They ranged themselves under particular flags, marched in ranks 
and sections, and in admirable military order, after each battalion, and 
elaseed themselves with strict etiquette ac^sording to their rank and pay. 


by which the passions of the soldiers v/ere kept in check, 
the greater must have been the veliemence with which 
they broke forth at the sole outlet which was left open 
to them. 

The duke divided his infantry, which was about nine 
thousand strong, and chiefly Spaniards, into four brigades, 
and gave the command of them to four Spanish officers. 
Alphonso of Ulloa led the Neapolitan brigade of nine 
companies, amounting to three thousand two hundred 
and thirty men ; Sancho of Lodogno commanded the 
Milan brigade, three thousand two hundred men in ten 
companies ; the Sicilian brigade, with the same number 
of companies, and consisting of sixteen hundred men, 
was under Julian Romero, an experienced warrior, who 
had already fought on Belgian ground ; ^ while Gonsalo 
of Braccamonte headed that of Sardinia, which was 
raised by three companies of recruits to the full comple- 
ment of the former. To every company, moreover, were 
added fifteen Spanish musqueteers. The horse, in all 
twelve hundred strong, consisted of three Italian, two 
Albanian, and seven Spanish squadrons, light and heavy 
cavalry, and the chief command was held by Ferdinand 
and Frederick of Toledo, the two sons of Alva. Chiappin 
Yitelli, Marquis of Cetona, was field-marshal; a cele- 
brated general whose services had been made over to the 
King of Spain by Cosmo of Florence ; and Gabriel Ser- 
bellon was general of artillery. The Duke of Savoy lent 
Alva an experienced engineer, Francis Pacotto, of Ur- 
bino, who was to be employed in the erection of new 
fortifications. His standard was likewise follov/ed by a 
number of volunteers, and the flower of the Spanish 
nobility, of whom the greater part had fought under 
Charles V. in Germany, Italy, and before Tunis. Among 
these were Christopher Mondragone, one of the ten 
Spanish heroes who, near Mtihlberg, swam across the 
Elbe with their swords between their teeth, and, under 
a shower of bullets from the enemy, brought over from 
the opposite shore the boats which the emperor required 
for the construction of a bridge, Sancho of Avila, who 

♦ The same officer who commanded one of the Spanish regiments about 
which so much complaint had formerly been made in the Stat«s-GeneraL 


had been trained to war under Alva himself, Camillo of 
Monte, Francis Ferdugo, Karl Davila, Nicolaus Basta, 
and Count Martinego, all fired with a noble ardor, either 
to commence their military career under so eminent 
a leader, or by another glorious campaign under his 
command to crown the fame they had already won. 
After the review the army marched in three divisions 
across Mount Cenis, by the very route which sixteen 
centuries before Hannibal is said to have taken. The 
duke hmiself led the van ; Ferdinand of Toledo, with 
whom was associated Lodogno as colonel, the centre ; 
and the Marquis of Cetona the rear. The Commissary 
General, Francis of Ibarra, was sent before with General 
Serbellon to open the road for the main body, and get 
ready the supplies at the several quarters for the night. 
The places which the van left in the morning were 
entered in the evening by the centre, which in its turn 
made room on the following day for the rear. Thus the 
army crossed the Alps of Savoy by regular stages, and 
with the fourteenth day completed that dangerous pass- 
age. A French army of observation accompanied it side 
by side along the frontiers of Dauphine, and the course of 
the Rhone, and the allied army of the Genevese followed 
it on the right, and was passed by it at a distance of 
seven miles. Both these armies of observation carefully 
abstained from any act of hostility, and were merely 
mtended to cover their own frontiers. As the Spanish 
legions ascended and descended the steep mountain crags, 
or while they crossed the rapid Iser, or file by file wound 
through the narrow passes of the rocks, a handful of men 
would have been sufficient to put an entire stop to their 
march, and to drive them back into the mountains, where 
they would have been irretrievably lost, since at each 
place of encampment supplies were provided for no more 
than a single day, and for a third part only of the whole 
force. But a supernatural awe and dread of the Spanish 
name appeared to have blinded the eyes of the enemy so 
that they did not perceive their advantage, or at least 
did not venture to profit by it. In order to give them 
as little opportunity as possible of remembering it, the 
Spanish general hastened through this dangerous pass. 

17— Schiller Vol. VII. 


Convinced, too, that if his troops gave the slightest 
umbrage he was lost, the strictest discipline was main- 
tained during the march ; not a single peasant's hut, not 
a single field was injured;* and never, perhaps, in the 
memory of man was so numerous an army led so far in 
such excellent order. Destined as this armv was for 
vengeance and murder, a malignant and baleful star 
seemed to conduct it safe through all dangers ; and it 
would be difficult to decide whether the prudence of its 
general or the blindness of its enemies is most to be 
wondered at. 

In Franche Comte, four squadrons of Burgundian 
cavalry, newly-raised, joined the main army, which, at 
Luxembourg, was also reinforced by three regiments of 
German infantry under the command of Counts Eber- 
stein, Schaumburg, and Lodrona. From Thionville, 
where he halted a few days, Alva sent his salutations to 
the regent by Francis of Ibarra, who Avas, at the same 
time, directed to consult her on the quartering of the 
troops. On her part, ]N^oircarmes and Barlaimont were 
despatched to the Spanish camp to congratulate the 
duke on his arrival, and to show him the customary 
marks of honor. At the same time they were directed 
to ask him to produce the powers entrusted to him by 
the king, of which, however, he only showed a part. 
The envoys of the regent were followed by swarms of 
the Flemish nobility, who thought they could not hasten 
soon enough to conciliate the favor of the new viceroy, 
or by a timely submission avert the vengeance which was 
preparing. Among them was Count Egmont. As he 
came forward the duke pointed him out to the by- 
standers. " Here comes an arch-heretic," he exclaimed, 
loud enough to be heard by Egmont himself, who, sur- 
prised at these words, stopped and changed color. But 
when the duke, in order to repair his imprudence, went 
up to him with a serene countenance, and greeted him 

* Once only on entering Lorraine three horsemen ventured to drive away 
a few sheep from a flock, of which circumstance the duke was no sooner 
informed than he sent back to the owner what had been taken from him and 
sentenced the offenders to be hung. This sentence was, at the intercession 
of the Lorraine general, who had come to the frontiers to pay his respects 
to the duke, executed on only one of the three, upon whom the lot fell at th« 


with a friendly embrace, the Fleming was ashamed of his 
fears, and made light of this warning, by putting some 
frivolous interpretation upon it. Egmont sealed this new 
friendship with a present of two valuable chargers, which 
Alva accejjted with a grave condescension. 

Upon the assurance of the regent that the provinces 
were in the enjoyment of perfect peace, and that no 
opposition was to be apprehended from any quarter, the 
duke discharged some German regiments, which had 
hitherto drawn their pay from the Netherlands. Three 
thousand six hundred men, under the command of Lo- 
drona, were quartered in Antwerp, from which town the 
Walloon garrison, in which full reliance could not be 
placed, was withdrawn ; garrisons proportionably stronger 
were thrown into Ghent and other important places ; 
Alva himself marched with the Milan brigade towards 
Brussels, whither he was accompanied by a splendid cor- 
tege of the noblest in the land. 

Here, as in all the other towns of the Netherlands, fear 
and terror had preceded him, and all who were conscious 
of any offences, and even those who were sensible of 
none, alike awaited his approach with a dread similar to 
that with which criminals see the coming of their day of 
trial. All who could tear themselves from the ties of 
family, property, and country had already fled, or now 
at last took to flight. The advance of the Sj^anish army 
had already, according to the report of the regent, di- 
minished the population of the provinces by the loss of 
one hundred thousand citizens, and this general flight 
still continued. But the arrival of the Spanish general 
could not be more hateful to the people of the Nether- 
lands than it was distressing and dispiriting to the 
regent. At last, after so many years of anxiety, 
she had begun to taste the sweets of repose, and that 
absolute authority, which had been the long-cherished 
object of eight years of a troubled and difficult adminis- 
tration. This late fruit of so much anxious industry, of 
so many cares and nightly vigils, was now to be wrested 
from her by a stranger, who was to be placed at once in 
possession of all the advantages which she had been 
forced to extract from adverse circumstances, by a long 


and tedious course of intrigue and patient endurance. 
Another was lightly to bear away the j^rize of prompti- 
tude, and to triumph by more rapid success over her 
superior but less glittering merits. Since the departure 
of the minister, Granvella, she had tasted to the full the 
pleasures of independence. The flattering homage of the 
nobility, which allowed her more fully to enjoy the 
shadow of power, the more they deprived her of its sub- 
stance, had, by degrees, fostered her vanity to such an 
extent, that she at last estranged by her coldness even 
the most upright of all her servants, the state counsellor 
Viglius, who always addressed her in the language of 
truth. All at once a censor of her actions was placed at 
her side, a partner of her power was associated with her, 
if indeed it was not rather a master who was forced upon 
her, whose proud, stubborn, and imperious spirit, which 
no courtesy could soften, threatened the deadliest wounds 
to her self-love and vanity. To prevent his arrival she 
had, in her representations to the king, vainly exhausted 
every political argument. To no purpose had she urged 
that the utter ruin of the commerce of the Netherlands 
would be the inevitable consequence of this introduction 
of the Spanish troops ; in vain had she assured the king 
that peace was universally restored, and reminded him of 
her own services in procuring it, which deserved, she 
thought, a better guerdon than to see all the fruits of her 
labors snatched from her and given to a foreigner, and 
more than all, to behold all the good which she had 
effected destroyed by a new and different line of con- 
duct. Even when the duke had already crossed Mount 
Cenis she made one more attempt, entreating him at 
least to diminish his army ; but that also failed, for the 
duke insisted upon acting up to the powers entrusted to 
him. In poignant grief she now awaited his approach, 
and with the tears she shed for her country were 
mingled those of offended self-love. 

On the 22d of August, 1567, the Duke of Alva ap- 
peared before the gates of Brussels. His army imme- 
diately took up their quarters in the suburbs, and he 
himself made it his first duty to pay his respects to the 
sister of his king. She gave him a private audience on 


the plea of suffering from sickness. Either the mortifi- 
cation she had undergone had in reality a serious effect 
upon her health, or, what is not imi^robable, she had re- 
course to this expedient to pain his haughty spirit, and 
in some degree to lessen his triumph. He delivered to 
her letters from the king, and laid before her a copy of 
his own appointment, by which the supreme command 
of the whole military force of the Netherlands w^as com- 
mitted to him, and from which, therefore, it would ap- 
pear, that the administration of civil affairs remained, as 
heretofore, in the hands of the regent. But as soon as 
he was alone with her he produced a new commission, 
which was totally different from the former. According 
to this, the power was delegated to him of making war at 
his discretion, of erecting fortifications, of appointing 
and dismissing at pleasure the governors of provinces, the 
commandants of towns, and other officers of the king ; of 
instituting inquiries into the past troubles, of punishing 
those who originated them, and of rewarding the loyal. 
Powers of this extent, which placed him almost on a level 
with a sovereign prince, and far sur23assed those of the 
regent herself, caused her the greatest consternation, and 
it was with difficulty that she could conceal her emotion. 
She asked the duke whether he had not even a third 
commission, or some special orders in reserve which went 
still further, and were drawn up still more precisely, to 
which he replied distinctly enough in the affirmative, but 
at the same time gave her to understand that this com- 
mission might be too full to suit the present occasion, and 
would be better brought into play hereafter with due 
regard to time and circumstances. A few days after his 
arrival he caused a copy of the first instructions to be 
laid before the several councils and the states, and had 
them printed to insure their rapid circulation. As the 
regent resided in the palace, he took up his quarters 
temporarily in Kuilemberg house, the same in which the 
association of the Gueux had received its name, and be- 
fore which, through a wonderful vicissitude, Spanish 
tyranny now planted its flag. 

A dead silence reigned in Brussels, broken only at 
times by the unwonted clang of arms. The duke had 


entered the town but a few Lours when his attendants, 
like bloodhounds that have been slipped, dispersed them- 
selves in all directions. Everywhere foreign faces were 
to be seen ; the streets were empty, all the houses care- 
fully closed, all amusements suspended, all public places 
deserted. The whole metropolis resembled a place 
visited by the plague. Acquaintances hurried on without 
stopping for their usual greeting ; all hastened on the 
moment a Sj^aniard showed himself in the streets. Every 
sound startled them, as if it were the knock of the officials 
of justice at their doors ; the nobility, in trembling 
anxiety, kept to their houses ; they shunned appearing in 
public lest their presence should remind the new viceroy 
of some past offence. The two nations now seemed to 
have exchanged characters. The Spaniard had become 
the talkative man and the Brabanter taciturn ; distrust 
and fear had scared away the spirit of cheerfulness and 
mirth ; a constrained gravity fettered even the play of the 
features. Every moment the impending blow was looked 
for with dread. 

This general straining of expectation warned the duke 
to hasten the accomplishment of his plans before they 
should be anticipated by the timely flight of his victims. 
His first object was to secure the suspected nobles, in 
order, at once and forever, to deprive the faction of its 
leaders, and the nation, whose freedom was to be crushed, 
of all its supporters. By a pretended affability he had 
succeeded in lulling their first alarm, and in restoring 
Count Egmont in particular to his former perfect confi- 
dence, for which purpose he artfully employed his sons, 
Ferdinand and Frederick of Toledo, whose companion- 
ableness and youth assimilated more easily with the 
Flemish character. By this skilful advice he succeeded 
also in enticing Count Horn P^- Brussels, who had hitherto 
thought it advisable to watch the first measures of the 
duke from a distance, but now suffered himself to be 
seduced by the good fortune of his friend. Some of the 
nobility, and Count Egmont at the head of them, even 
resumed their former gay style of living. But they 
themselves did not do so with their whole hearts, and 
they had not many imitators. Kuilemberg house was 


incessantly besieged by a numerous crowd, who thronged 
around the person of the new viceroy, and exhibited an 
affected gayety on their countenances, while their hearts 
were wrung with distress and fear. Egniont in particular 
assumed the appearance of a light heart, entertaining the 
duke's sons, and being feted by them in return. Mean- 
while, the duke was fearful lest so fair an opportunity 
for the accomplishment of his plans might not last long, 
and lest some act of imprudence might destroy the 
feeling of security which had tempted both his victims 
voluntarily to put themselves into his power ; he only 
waited for a third ; Hogstraten also was to be taken in 
the same net. Under a plausible pretext of business he 
therefore summoned him to the metropolis. At the same 
time that he purposed to secure the three counts in 
Brussels, Colonel Lodrona was to arrest the burgomaster, 
Strahlen, in Antwerp, an intimate friend of the Prince of 
Orange, and suspected of having favored the Calvinists ; 
another officer was to seize the private secretary of Count 
Egmont, whose name was John Cassembrot von Becker- 
zeel, as also some secretaries of Count Horn, and was to 
possess themselves of their papers. 

When the day arrived which had been fixed upon for 
the execution of this plan, the duke summoned all the 
counsellors and knights before him to confer with them 
upon matters of state. On this occasion the Duke of 
Arschot, the Counts Mansfeld, Barlaimont, and Arem- 
berg attended on the part of the Netherlands, and on the 
part of the Spaniards besides the duke's sons, Vitelli, 
Serbellon, and Ibarra. The young Count Mansfeld, who 
likewise appeared at the meeting, received a sign from 
his father to withdraw with all speed, and by a hasty 
flight avoid the fate which was impending over him as a 
former member of the Geusen league. The duke pur- 
posely prolonged the consultation to give time before he 
acted for the arrival of the couriers from Antwerp, who 
were to bring liim the tidings of the arrest of the other 
parties. To avoid exciting any suspicion, the engineer, 
Pacotto, was required to attend the meeting to lay before 
it the plans for some fortifications. At last intelligence 
was brought him that Lodrona had successfully executed 


his commission. Upon this the duke dexterously broke 
off the debate and dismissed the council. And now, as 
Count Egmout was about to repair to the apartment of 
Don Ferdinand, to finish a game that he had commenced 
with him, the captain of the duke's body guard, Sancho 
D'Avila, stopped him, and demanded his sword in the 
king's name. At the same time he was surrounded by a 
number of Spanish soldiers, who, as had been precon- 
certed, suddenly advanced from their concealment. So 
unexpected a blow deprived Egmont for some moments 
of all powers of utterance and recollection ; after a while, 
however, he collected himself, and taking his sword from 
his side with dignified composure, said, as he delivered it 
into the hands of the Spaniard, " This sword has before 
this on more than one occasion successfully defended the 
king's cause." Another Spanish ofiicer arrested Count 
Horn as he was returning to his house without the least 
suspicion of danger. Horn's first inquiry was after 
Egmont. On being told that the same fate had just hap- 
pened to his friend he surrendered himself without resist- 
ance. " I have suffered myself to be guided by him," he 
exclaimed, " it is fair that I should share his destiny." The 
two counts were placed in confinement in separate apart- 
ments. While this was going on in the interior of 
Kuilemberg house the whole garrison were drawn out 
under arms in front of it. No one knew what had taken 
place inside, a mysterious terror diffused itself throughout 
Brussels until rumor spread the news of this fatal event. 
Each felt as if he himself were the sufferer ; with many 
indignation at Egmont's blind infatuation preponderated 
over sympathy for his fate ; all rejoiced that Orange had 
escaped. The first question of the Cardinal Granvella, 
too, when these tidings reached him in Rome, is said to 
have been, whether they had taken the Silent One also. 
On being answered in the negative lie shook his head : 
^'then as they have let him escape they have got noth- 
ing." Fate ordained better for the Count of Hogstraten. 
Compelled by ill-health to travel slowly, he was met by 
the report of this event w^iile he was yet on his way. 
He hastily turned back, and fortunately escaped destruc- 
Uon. Immediately after Egmont's seizure a writing was 


extorted from him, addressed to the commandant of 
the citadel of Ghent, ordering that officer to deliver the 
fortress to the Spanish Colonel Alphonso d'Ulloa. Upon 
this the two counts were then (after they had been for 
some weeks confined in Brussels) conveyed under a guard 
of three thousand Spaniards to Ghent, where they re- 
mained imprisoned till late in the following year. In the 
meantime all their papers had been seized. Many of the 
first nobility who, by the pretended kindness of the Duke 
of Alva, had allowed themselves to be cajoled into 
remaining experienced the same fate. Capital punish' 
ment was also, without further delay, inflicted on all who 
before the duke's arrival had been taken with arms in 
their hands. Upon the news of Egmont's arrest a second 
body of about twenty thousand inhabitants took up the 
wanderer's staff, iaesides the one hundred thousand who, 
prudently declining to await the arrival of the Spanish 
general, had already placed themselves in safety.^ After 
so noble a life had been assailed no one counted himself 
safe any longer ; but many found cause to repent that 
they had so long deferred this salutary step ; for every 
day flight was rendered more difficult, for the duke 
ordered all the ports to be closed, and punished the 
attempt at emigration with death. The beggars were 
now esteemed fortunate, who hat^ abandoned country 
and property in order to preserve at least their liberty 
and their lives. 

ALVa's first measures, and DEPARTURE OP THE 


Alva's first step, after securing the most suspected of 
the nobles, was to restore the Inquisition to its former 
authority, to put the decrees of Trent again in force, 
abolish the '-^moderations'* and promulgate anew the 
edicts against heretics in all their original severity. The 

* A great part of these fugitives helped to strengthen the army of the 
Huguenots, who had taken occasion, from the passage of the Spanish army 
through Lorraine, to assemhle their forces, and now pressed Charles IX. 
hard. On these grounds the French court thought it had a right to demand 
aid from the regent of the Netherlands. It asserted that the Huguenots had 
jooked upon the march of the Spanish army as the result of a preconcerted 
plan which bad been formed against them by the two courts at Bayouue, and 


court of Inquisition in Spain had pronounced the whole 
nation of the Netherlands guilty of treason in the highest 
degree, Catholics and heterodox, loyalists and rebels, 
without distinction; the latter as having offended by 
overt acts, the former as having incurred equal guilt by 
their supineness. From this sweeping condemnation a 
very few were excepted, whose names, however, were 
purposely reserved, while the general sentence was pub- 
licly confirmed by the king. Philip declared himself 
absolved from all his promises, and released from all 
engagements which the regent in his name had entered 
into with the people of the Netherlands, and all the 
justice which they had in future to expect from him must 
depend on his own good-will and pleasure. All who had 
aided in the expulsion of the minic^rer, Granvella, who 
had taken part in the petition of the confederate nobles, 
or had but even spoken in favor of it ; all who had pre- 
sented a petition against the decrees of Trent, against 
the edicts relating to religion, or against the installation 
of the bishops ; all who had permitted the public preach- 
ings, or had only feebly resisted them ; all who had worn 
the insignia of the Gueux, had sung Geusen songs, or 
who in any way whatsoever had manifested their joy at 
the establishment of the league ; all who had sheltered 
or concealed the reforming preachers, attended Calvinis- 
tic funerals, or had even merely known of their secret 
meetings, and not given information of them; all who 
had appealed to the national privileges ; all, in fine, who 
had expressed an opinion that they ought to obey God 
rather than man ; all these indiscriminately were declared 
liable to the penalties which the law imposed upon any 
violation of the royal prerogative, and upon high treason ; 
and these penalties were, according to the instruction 
which Alva had received, to be executed on the guilty 
persons without forbearance or favor ; without regard to 
rank, sex, or age, as an example to posterity, and for a 

that this had roused them from their slumher. That consequently it hehooved 
the Spanish court to assist in extricating the French king from diflBculties 
into wliich the latter had heen brought simply by the march of the Spanish 
troops. Alva actually sent the Count of Aremberg with a considerable force 
to join the army of the Queen Mother in France, and even otfered to com- 
mand these subsidiaries in person, which, however, was declined. Strada. 
a06. Thuau,541. 


terror to all future times. According to this declaration 
there was no longer an innocent person to be found in 
the whole Netherlands, and the new viceroy had it in his 
power to make a fearful choice of victims. Property 
and life were alike at his command, and whoever should 
have the good fortune to preserve one or both must re 
ceive them as the gift of his generosity and humanity. 
By this stroke of policy, as refined as it was detestable, 
the nation was disarmed, and unanimity rendered impos- 
sible. As it absolutely depended on the duke's arbitrary 
will upon whom the sentence should be carried in force 
which had been passed without exception upon all, eacli 
individual kept himself quiet, in order to escape, if pos- 
sible, the notice of the viceroy, and to avoid drawing the 
fatal choice upon himself. Every one, on the other 
hand, in whose favor he was pleased to make an excep- 
tion stood in a degree indebted to him, and was person- 
ally under an obligation which must be measured by the 
value he set upon his life and property. As, however, 
this penalty could only be executed on the smaller por- 
tion of the nation, the duke naturally secured the greater 
by the strongest ties of fear and gratitude, and for one 
whom he sought out as a victim he gained ten others 
whom he passed over. As long as he continued true to 
this policy h? remained in quiet possession of his rule, 
even amid the streams of blood which he caused to flow, 
and did not forfeit this advantage till the want of money 
compelled him to impose a burden upon the nation which 
oppressed all indiscriminately. 

In order to bo equal to this bloody occupation, the 
details of which were fast accumulating, and to be cer- 
tain of not losing a single victim through the want of 
instruments ; and, on the other hand, to render his pro- 
ceedings independent of the states, with whose privileges 
they were so much at variance, and who, indeed, were 
far too humane for him, he instituted an extraordinary 
court of justice. This court consisted of twelve crim- 
inal judges, who, according to their instructions, to the 
very letter of which they must adhere, were to try and 
pronounce sentence upon those implicated in the past 
disturbances. The mere institution of such a board was 


a violation of the liberties of the country, which ex- 
pressly stipulated that no citizen should be tried out of 
his own province; but the duke filled up the measure of 
his injustice when, contrary to the most sacred privileges 
of the nation, he proceeded to give seats and votes in 
that court to Spaniards, the open and avowed enemies of 
Belgian liberty. He himself was the president of this 
court, and after him a certain licentiate, Vargas, a Span- 
iard by birth, of whose iniquitous character the historians 
of both parties are unanimous; cast out like r. plague- 
spot from his own country, where he had violated one of 
his wards, he was a shameless, hardened villain, in whose 
mind avarice, lust, and the thirst for blood struggled for 
ascendancy. The principal members were Count Arem- 
berg, Philip of Noircarmes, and Charles of Barlaimont, 
who, however, never sat in it ; Hadrian Nicolai, chan- 
cellor of Gueldres; Jacob Mertens and Peter Asset, 
presidents of Artois and Flanders; Jacob Hesselts and 
John de la Porte, counsellors of Ghent ; Louis del Roi, 
doctor of theology, and by birth a Spaniard ; John du 
Bois, king's advocate ; and De la Torre, secretary of the 
court. In compliance with the representations of Viglius 
the privy council was spared any part in this tribunal ; 
nor was any one introduced into it from the great coun- 
cil at Malines. The votes of the members were only 
recommendatory, not conclusive, the final sentence being 
reserved by the duke to himself. No particular time was 
fixed for the sitting of the court ; the members, however, 
assembled at noon, as often as the duke thous^hti scood. 
But after the expiration of the third month Alva began 
to be less frequent in his attendance, and at last resigned 
his place entirely to his favorite, Vargas, who filled it 
with such odious fitness that in a short time all the mem- 
bers, with the exception merely of the Spanish doctor, 
Del Rio, and the secretary^ De la Torre,* weary of the 
atrocities of which they were compelled to be both eye- 
witnesses and accomplices, remained away from the as- 
sembly. It is revolting to the feelings to think how the 

* The sentences passed upon the most eminent persons (for example, the 
sentence jf death passed upon T'trahlon, the burgomaster of Antwerp), were 
igned only by Vargas, Del Rio, and De la Torre. 


lives of the noblest and best were thus placed at the 
mercy of Spanish vagabonds, and how even the sanctua- 
ries of the nation, its deeds and charters, were unscrupu- 
lously ransacked, the seals broken, and the most secret 
contracts between the sovereign and the state profaned 
and exposed."^ 

From the council of twelve (which, from the object of 
its institution, was called the council for disturbances, 
but on account of its proceedings is more generally 
known under the appellation of the council of blood, a 
name which the nation in their exasperation bestowed 
upon it), no appeal was allowed. Its proceedings could 
not be revised. Its verdicts were irrevocable and inde- 
pendent of all other authority. "No other tribunal in the 
country could take cognizance of cases which related to 
the late insurrection, so that in all the other courts jus- 
tice was nearly at a standstill. The great <iO'ii?cil at 
Malines was as good as abolished ; the authority of the 
council of state entirely ceased, insomuch that its sittings 
were discontinued. On Gome rare occasions the duke 
conferred with a few members of the late assembly, but 
even when this did occur the conference was held in his 
cabinet, and was no more than o, private consultation, 
without any of the proper forms being observed. No 
privilege, no charter of immunity, however carefully pro- 
tected, had any weight with the council for disturbances.! 
It compelled all deeds and contracts to be laid before it, 
and often forced upon them the most strained interpeta- 
tions and alterations. If the duke caused a sentence to 
be drawn out which there was reason to fear might be 
opposed by the states of Brabant, it was legalized with- 

* For an example ot the unfeeling levity with which the most important 
matters, even decisions in cases of life and death, were treated in this san- 
guinary council, it may serve to relate what is told of the Counsellor Hesselts. 
He was generally asleep during the meeting, and when his turn came to vote 
on c sentence of death he used to cry out, still half asleep : *' Ad patibulum ! 
Ad patibulum ! " so glibly did his tongue utter this word. It is further to be 
remarked of this Hesselts, that his wife, a daughter of the President Viglius, 
had expressly stipulated in the marriage-contract that he should resign the 
aismal oflBce of attorney for the king, which made him detested by the whole 
nation. Vigl. ad Hopp. Ixvii., L. 

t Vargas, in a few words of barbarous Latin, demolished at once the 
toasted liberties of the Netherlands. -=' Non curamus vestros privllegios,'' 
.'lo replied to one who wished to plead the immunities of the University of 


out the Brabant seal. The most sacred rig^hts of indi- 
viduals were assailed, and a tyranny without example 
forced its arbitrary will even into the circle of domestic 
life. As the Protestants and rebels had hitherto con- 
trived to strengthen their party so much by marriages 
with the first families in the country, the duke issued an 
edict forbidding all Netherlanders, whatever might be 
their rank or office, under pain of death and confiscation 
of property, to conclude a marriage without previously 
obtaining his permission. 

All whom the council for disturbances thought proper 
to summon before it were compelled to appear, clergy as 
well as laity ; the most venerable heads of the senate, as 
well as the reprobate rabble of the Iconoclasts. Whoever 
did not present himself, as indeed scarcely anybody did, 
was declared an outlaw, and his property was confiscated ; 
but those who were rash or foolish enough to appear, or 
who were so unfortunate as to be seized, were lost without 
redemption. Twenty, forty, often fifty were summoned 
at the same time and from the same town, and the richest 
were always the first on whom the thunderbolt descended. 
The meaner citizens, who possessed nothing that could 
render their country and their homes dear to them, were 
taken unawares and arrested without any previous cita- 
tion. Many eminent merchants, who had at their disposal 
fortunes of from sixty thousand to one hundred thousand 
florins, were seen with their hands tied behind their 
backs, dragged like common vagabonds at the horse's tail 
to execution, and in Valenciennes fifty-five persons were 
decapitated at one time. All the prisons — and the duke 
immediately on commencing his administration had built 
a great number of them — were crammed full with the 
accused ; hanging, beheading, quartering, burning were 
the prevailing and ordinary occupations of the day ; the 
punishment of the galleys and banishment were more 
rarely heard of, for there was scarcely any offence which 
was reckoned too trival to be punislied with death. Im- 
mense suras were tlius brought into the treasury, w^hich, 
however, served rather to stimulate the new viceroy's 
and his colleagues' thirst for gold tlian to quench it. It 
seemed to be his insane purpose to make beggars of the 


whole people, and to throw all their riches into the hands 
of the king and his servants. The yearly income derived 
from these confiscations was computed to equal the reve- 
nues of the first kingdoms of Europe ; it is said to have 
been estimated, in a report furnished to the king, at the 
incredible amount of twenty million of dollars. But 
these proceedings were the more inhuman, as they often 
bore hardest precisely upon the very persons who were 
the most peaceful subjects, and most orthodox Roman 
Catholics, whom they could not want to injure. When- 
ever an estate was confiscated all the creditors who had 
claims upon it were defrauded. The hospitals, too, and 
public institutions, which such properties had contributed 
to support, were now ruined, and the poor, who had 
formerly drawn a pittance from this source, were com- 
pelled to see their only spring of comfort dried up. 
Whoever ventured to urge their well-grounded claims on 
the forfeited property before the council of twelve (for 
no other tribunal dared to interfere with these inquiries), 
consumed their substance in tedious and expensive pro- 
ceedings, and were reduced to beggary before they saw 
the end of them. The histories of civilized states furnish 
but one instance of a similar perversion of justice, of such 
violation of the rights of property, and of such waste of 
human life ; but Cinna, Sylla, and Marius entered van- 
quished Rome as incensed victors, and practised without 
disguise what the viceroy of the ISTetherlands performed 
under the venerable veil of the laws. 

Up to the end of the year 1567 the king's arrival had 
been confidently expected, and the well-disposed of the 
people had placed all their last hopes on this event. The 
vessels, which Philip had caused to be equipped expressly 
for the purpose of meeting him, still lay in the harbor of 
Flushing, ready to sail at the first signal ; and the town 
of Brussels had consented to receive a Spanish garrison, 
simply because the king, it was pretended, was to reside 
within its walls. But this hope gradually vanished, as he 
put off the journey from one season to the next, and the 
new viceroy very soon began to exhibit powers which 
announced him less as a precursor of royalty than as an 
absolute minister, whose presence made that of the 


monarch entirely superfluous. To complete the distress 
of the provinces their last good angel was now to leave 
them in the person of the regent. 

From the moment when the production of the duke's 
extensive powers left no doubt remaining as to the prac- 
tical termination of her own rule, Margaret had formed 
the resolution of relinquishing the name also of regent. 
To see a successor in the actual possession of a dignity 
which a nine years' enjoyment had made indispensable to 
her ; to see the authority, the glory, the splendor, the 
adoration, and all the marks of respect, which are the 
usual concomitants of supreme power, pass over to 
another ; and to feel that she had lost that which she 
could never forget she had once held, was more than a 
woman's mind could endure ; moreover, the Duke of Alva 
was of all men the least calculated to make her feel her 
privation the less painful by a forbearing use of his newly- 
acquired dignity. The tranquillity of the country, too, 
which was put in jeopardy by this divided rule, seemed 
to impose upon the duchess the necessity of abdicating. 
Many governors of provinces refused, without an express 
order from the court, to receive commands from the duke 
and to recognize him as co-regent. 

The rapid change of their point of attraction could not 
be met by the courtiers so composedly and imperturba- 
bly but that the duchess observed the alteration, and 
bitterly felt it. Even the few who, like State Counsellor 
Viglius, still firmly adhered to her, did so less from at- 
tachment to her person than from vexation at being 
displaced by novices and foreigners, and from being too 
proud to serve a fresh apprenticeship under a new viceroy. 
But far the greater number, with all their endeavors to 
keep an exact mean, could not help making a difference 
between the homage they paid to the rising sun and that 
which they bestowed on the setting luminary. The royal 
palace in Brussels became more and more deserted, while 
the throng at Kuilemberg house daily increased. But 
what wounded the sensitiveness of the duchess most 
acutely was the arrest of Horn and Egmont, which was 
planned and executed by the duke without her knowledge 
or consent, just as if there had been no such person as 


herself in existence. Alva did, indeed, after the act was 
done, endeavor to appease her by declaring that the 
design had been purposely kept secret from her in order 
to spare her name from being mixed up in so odious a 
transaction ; but no such considerations of delicacy could 
close the wound which had been inflicted on her pride. 
In order at once to escape all risk of similar insults, of 
which the present was probably only a forerunner, she 
despatched her private secretary, Macchiavell, to the court 
of her brother, there to solicit earnestly for permission to 
resign the regency. The request was granted without 
difficulty by the king, who accompanied his consent with 
every mark of his highest esteem. He would put aside 
(so the king expressed himself) his own advantage and 
that of the provinces in order to oblige his sister. He 
sent a present of thirty thousand dollars, and allotted to 
her a yearly pension of twenty thousand.* At the same 
time a diploma was forwarded to the Duke of Alva, con- 
stituting him, in her stead, viceroy of all the Netherlands, 
with unlimited powers. 

Gladly would Margaret have learned that she was per- 
mitted to resign the regency before a solemn assembly of 
the states, a wish which she had not very obscurely hinted 
to the king. But she was not gratified. She was partic- 
ularly fond of solemnity, and the example of the Emperor, 
her father, who had exhibited the extraordinary spectacle 
of his abdication of the crown in this very city, seemed 
to have great attractions for her. As she was compelled 
to part with supreme power, she could scarcely be blamed 
for wishing to do so with as much splendor as possible. 
Moreover, she had not failed to observe how much the 
general hatred of the duke had effected in her own favor, 
and she looked, therefore, the more wistfully forward to 
a scene, which promised to be at once so flattering to her 

* Which, however, does not appear to have been very punctually paid, if 
a pamphlet may be trusted which was printed during her lifetime. (It bears 
the title : Discours sur la Blessure de Monseigneur Prince d'Orange 1582 
without notice of the place where it was printed, and is to be found in the 
Elector's library at Dresden.) She languished, it is there stated, at Namur 
m poverty, and so ill-supported by her son (the then governor of the Nether- 
lands), that her own secretary, Aldrobandin, called her sojourn there an exile. 
But the writer goes on to ask what better treatment could she expect from a 
son who, when still very young, being on a visit to her at Brussels, snapped 
ms fingers at her behind her back. 

!■:!— Schiller Vol. YII. 


and so affecting. She would have been glad to mingle 
her own tears with those which she hoped to see shed by 
the Netherlanders for their good regent. Thus the bitter- 
ness of her descent from the throne would have been al- 
leviated by the expression of general sympathy. Little 
as she had done to merit the general esteem during the 
nine years of her administration, while fortune smiled 
upon her, and the approbation of her sovereign was the 
limit to all her wishes, yet now the sympathy of the 
nation had acquired a value in her eyes as the only thing 
which could in some degree compensate to her for the 
disappointment of all her other hopes. Fain would she 
have persuaded herself that she had become a voluntary 
sacrifice to her goodness of heart and her too humane 
feelings towards the Xetherlanders. As, however, the 
king was very far from being disposed to incur any 
danger by calling a general assembly of the states, in 
order to gratify a mere caprice of his sister, she was 
obliged to content herself with a farewell letter to them. 
In this document she went over her whole administra- 
tion, recounted, not without ostentation, the difficulties 
with which she had had to struggle, the evils which, by 
her dexterity, she had prevented, and wound up at last 
by saying that she left a finished work, and had to transfer 
to her successor nothing but the punishment of offenders. 
The king, too, was repeatly compelled to hear the same 
statement, and she left nothing undone to arrogate to 
herself the glory of any future advantages which it might 
be the ofood fortune of the duke to realize. Her own 
merits, as something which did not admit of a doubt, but 
was at the same time a burden oppressive to her modesty, 
she laid at the feet of the king. 

Dispassionate posterity may, nevertheless, hesitate to 
subscribe unreservedly to this favorable opinion. Even 
though the united voice of her contemporaries, and the 
testimony of the Netherlands themselves vouch for it, a 
third party will not be denied the right to examine her 
claims with stricter scrutiny. Tlie popular mind, easily 
affected, is but too ready to count the absence of a vice 
as an additional virtue, and, under the pressure of ex- 
isting evil, to give excess of praise for past benefits. 


The Netherlander seems to have concentrated all his 
hatred upon the Spanish name. To lay the blame of the 
national evils on the regent would tend to remove from 
the king and his minister the curses which he would 
rather shower upon them alone and undividedly; and 
the Duke of Alva's government of the Netherlands was, 
perhaps, not the proper point of view from which to test 
the merits of his predecessor. It was undoubtedly no 
light task to meet the king's expectations without in- 
fringing the rights of the people and the duties of human- 
ity; but in struggling to effect these two contradictory 
objects Margaret had accomplished neither. She had 
deeply injured the nation, while comparatively she had 
done little service to the king. It is true that she at last 
crushed the Protestant faction, but the accidental out- 
break of the Iconoclasts assisted her in this more than all 
her dexterity. She certainly succeeded by her intrigues 
in dissolving the league of the nobles, but not until the 
first blow had been struck at its roots by internal dissen- 
sions. The object, to secure which she had for many 
years vainly exhaused her whole policy, was effected at 
last by a single enlistment of troops, for which, however, 
the orders were issued from Madrid. She delivered to 
the duke, no doubt, a tranquillized country ; but it can- 
not be denied that the dread of his approach had the 
chief share in tranquillizing it. By her reports she led 
the council in Spain astray ; because she never informed 
it of the disease, but only of the occasional symptoms/ 
never of the universal feeling and voice of the nation, bui 
only of the misconduct of factions. Her faulty adminis^ 
tration, moreover, drew the people into the crime, because 
she exasperated without sufficiently awing them. She it 
was that brought the murderous Alva into the country 
I'V leading the king to believe that the disturbances in 
tlie provinces were to be ascribed, not so much to the 
severity of the royal ordinances, as to the unworthiness 
of those who were charged with their execution. Mar- 
garet possessed natural capacity and intellect ; and an 
acquired political tact enabled her to meet any ordinary 
case ; but she wanted that creative genius which, for new 
and extraordinary emergencies, invents new maxims, or 


wisely oversteps old ones. In a country where honesty 
was the best policy, she adopted the unfortunate plan of 
practising her insidious Italian policy, and thereby sowed 
the seeds of a fatal distrust in the minds of the people. 
The indulgence which has been so liberally imputed to 
her as a merit was, in truth, extorted from her weakness 
and timidity by the courageous opposition of the nation ; 
she had never departed from the strict letter of the royal 
commands by her own spontaneous resolution; never did 
the gentle feelings of innate humanity lead her to misin- 
terpret the cruel purport of her instructions. Even the 
few concessions to which necessity compelled her were 
granted with an uncertain and shrinking hand, as if 
fearing to give too much ; and she lost the fruit of her 
benefactions because she mutilated them by a sordid 
closeness. What in all the other relations of her life she 
was too little, she was on the throne too much — a 
woman ! She had it in her power, after Granvella's 
expulsion, to become the benefactress of the Belgian 
nation, but she did not. Her supreme good was the 
approbation of her king, her greatest misfortune his dis- 
pleasure ; with all the eminent qualities of her mind she 
remained an ordinary character because her heart was 
destitute of native nobility. She used a melancholy 
power with much moderation, and stained her govern- 
ment with no deed of arbitrary cruelty ; nay, if it had 
depended on her, she would have always acted humanely. 
Years afterwards, when her idol, Philip II., had long for- 
gotten her, the ISTetherlanders still honored her memory ; 
but she was far from deserving the glory which her suc- 
cessor's inhumanity reflected upon her. 

She left Brussels about the end of December, 1567. 
The duke escorted her as far as the frontiers of Brabant, 
and there left her under the protection of Count Mans- 
feld in order to hasten back to the metropolis and show 
himself to the Netherlanders as sole regent. 



The two counts were a few weeks after their arrest 
conveyed to Ghent under an escort of three thousand 
Spaniards, where they were confined in the citadel for 
more than eight months. Their trial commenced in 
due form before the council of twelve, and the solicitor- 
general, John Du Bois, conducted the proceedings. The 
indictment against Egmont consisted of ninety counts, 
and that against Horn of sixty. It would occupy too 
much space to introduce them here. Every action, how- 
ever innocent, every omission of duty, was interpreted on 
the principle which had been laid down in the opening 
of the indictment, " that the two counts, in conjunction 
with the Prince of Orange, had planned the overthrow 
of the royal authority in the Netherlands, and the usurp- 
ation of the government of the country;" the expulsion 
of Granvella; the embassy of Egmont to Madrid; the 
confederacy of the Gueux ; the concessions which they 
made to the Protestants in the provinces under their 
government — all were made to have a connection with, 
and reference to, this deliberate design. Thus importance 
was attached to the most insignificant occurrences, and 
one action made to darken and discolor another. By 
taking care to treat each of the charges as in itself a 
treasonable offence it was the more easy to justify a 
Bentence of high treason by the whole. 

The accusations were sent to each of the prisoners, who 
were required to reply to them within five days. After 
doing so they were allowed to employ solicitors and advo- 
cates, who were permitted free access to them ; but as 
they were accused of treason their friends were pro- 
hibited from visiting them. Count Egmont employed for 
his solicitor Yon Landas, and made choice of a few emi- 
nent advocates from Brussels. 

The first step was to demur against the tribunal which 
was to try them, since by the privilege of their order 
they, as Knights of the Golden Fleece, were amenable 
only to the king himself, the grand master. But this 



demurrer was overruled, and they were required to pro- 
duce their witnesses, in default of which they were to be 
proceeded against in coyitumacimn. Egmont had satis- 
factorily answered to eighty-two counts, while Count 
Horn had refuted the charges against him, article by 
article. The accusation and the defence are still extant; 
on that defence every impartial tribunal would have 
acquitted them both. The Procurator Fiscal pressed for 
the production of their evidence, and the Duke of Alva 
issued his repeated commands to use despatch. They 
delayed, however, from week to week, while they renewed 
their protests against the illegality of the court. At last 
the duke assigned them nine days to produce their proofs; 
on the lapse of that period they were to be declared 
guilty, and as having forfeited all right of defence. 

During the progress of the trial the relations and 
friends of the two counts were not idle. Egmont's wife, 
by birth a duchess of Bavaria, addressed petitions to the 
princes of the German empire, to the Emperor, and to 
the King of Spain. The Countess Horn, mother of the 
imprisoned count, who was connected by the ties of 
friendship or of blood with the principal royal families 
of Germany, did the same. All alike protested loudly 
against this illegal proceeding, and appealed to the liberty 
of the German empire, on which Horn, as a count of the 
empire, had special claims ; the liberty of the Netherlands 
and the privileges of the Order of the Golden Fleece 
were likewise insisted upon. The Countess Egmont 
succeeded in obtaining the intercession of almost every 
German court in behalf of her husband. The King of 
Spain and his viceroy were besieged by applications in 
behalf of the accused, which were referred from one to 
the other, and made light of by both. Countess Horn 
collected certificates from all the Knights of the Golden 
Fleece in Spain, Germany, and Italy to prove the privi- 
leges of the order. Alva rejected them with a declara- 
tion that they had no force in such a case as the present. 
"The crimes of which the counts are accused relate to 
the affairs of the Belgian provinces, and he, the duke, 
was appointed by the king sole judge of all matters con- 
nected with those countries." 


Four months had been allowed to the solicitor-general 
to draw up the indictment, and five were granted to the 
two counts to prepare for their defence. But instead of 
losing their time and trouble in adducing their evidence, 
which, perhaps, would have profited them but little, they 
preferred wasting it in protests against the judges, which 
availed them still less. By the former course they would 
probably have delayed the final sentence, and in the time 
thus gained the powerful intercession of their friends 
might perhaps have not been ineffectual. By obstinately 
persisting in denying the competency of the tribunal which 
was to try them, they furnished the duke with an excuse 
for cutting short the proceedings. After the last assigned 
period had expired, on the 1st of June, 1658, the council 
of twelve declared them guilty, and on the 4th of that 
month sentence of death was pronounced against 

The execution of twenty-five noble Netherlanders, who 
were beheaded in three successive days in the market- 
place at Brussels, was the terrible prelude to the fate of 
the two counts. John Casembrot von Beckerzeel, secre- 
tary to Count Egmont, was one of the unfortunates, who 
was thus rewarded for his fidelity to his master, which 
he steadfastly maintained even upon the rack, and for 
his zeal in the service of the king, which he had mani- 
fested against the Iconoclasts. The others had either 
been taken prisoners, with arms in their hands, in the 
insurrection of the " Gueux," or apprehended and con- 
demned as traitors on account of having taken a part in 
the petition of the nobles. 

The duke had reason to hasten the execution of the 
sentence. Count Louis of Nassau had given battle to 
the Count of Aremberg, near the monastery of Heiligerlee, 
in Groningen, and had the good fortune to defeat him. 
Immediately after his victory he had advanced against 
Groningen, and laid siege to it. The success of his arms 
had raised the courage of his faction ; and the Prince of 
Orange, his brother, was close at hand with an army to 
support him. These circumstances made the duke's 
presence necessary in those distant provinces; but he 
could not venture to leave Brussels before the fate of 


two such important prisoners was decided. The whole 
nation loved them, which was not a little increased by 
their unhappy fate. Even the strict papists disapproved 
of the execution of these eminent nobles. The slightest 
advantage which the arms of the rebels might gain over 
the duke, or even the report of a defeat, would cause a 
revolution in Brussels, which would immediately set the 
two counts at liberty. Moreover, the petitions and inter- 
cessions which came to the viceroy, as well as to the 
King of Spain, from the German princes, increased daily ; 
nay, the Emperor, Maximilian II., himself caused the 
countess to be assured " that she had nothing to fear for 
the life of her spouse." These powerful applications 
might at last turn the king's heart in favor of the prison- 
ers. The king might, perhaps, in reliance on his viceroy's 
usual dispatch, put on the appearance of yielding to the 
representations of so many sovereigns, and rescind the 
sentence of death under the conviction that his mercy 
would come too late. These considerations moved the 
duke not to delay the execution of the sentence as soon 
as it was pronounced. 

On the day after the sentence was passed the two 
counts were brought, under an escort of three thousand 
Spaniards, from Ghent to Brussels, and placed in confine- 
ment in the Brodhause^ in the great market-place. The 
next morning the council of twelve were assembled ; the 
duke, contrary to his custom, attended in person, and 
both the sentences, in sealed envelopes, were opened and 
publicly read by Secretary Pranz. The two counts were 
declared guilty of treason, as having favored and pro- 
moted the abominable conspiracy of the Prince of Or- 
ange, protected the confederated nobles, and been con- 
victed of various misdemeanors against their king and 
the church in their governments and other appointments. 
Both were sentenced to be publicly beheaded, and their 
heads were to be fixed upon pikes and not taken down 
without the duke's express command. All their posses- 
sions, fiefs, and rights escheated to the royal treasury. 
The sentence was signed only by the duke and the secre- 
tary, Pranz, without asking or caring for the consent of 
the other members of the council. 


During the night between the 4th and 5th of June the 
sentences were brought to the prisoners, after they had 
ah-eady gone to rest. The duke gave them to the Bishop 
of Ypres, Martin Rithov, whom he had expressly sum- 
moned to Brussels to prepare the prisoners for death. 
When the bishop received this commission he threw him= 
self at the feet of the duke, and supplicated him with 
tears in his eyes for mercy, at least for respite for the 
prisoners ; but he was answered in a rough and angry 
voice that he had been sent for from Ypres, not to oppose 
the sentence, but by his spiritual consolation to reconcile 
the unhappy noblemen to it. 

Egmont was the first to whom the bishop communicated 
the sentence of death. "That is indeed a severe sen- 
tence," exclaimed the count, turning pale, and with a 
faltering voice. "I did not think that I had offended 
his majesty so deeply as to deserve such treatment. If, 
however, it must be so I submit to my fate with resigna- 
tion. May this death atone for my offence, and save my 
w^ife and children from suffering. This at least I think I 
may claim for my past services. As for death, I will 
meet it with composure, since it so pleases God and my 
king." He then pressed the bishop to tell him seriously 
and candidly if there was no hope of pardon. Being 
answered in the negative, he confessed and received the 
sacrament from the priest, repeating after him the mass 
with great devoutness. He asked what prayer was the 
best and most effective to recommend him to God in his 
last hour. On being told that no prayer could be more 
effectual than the one which Christ himself had taught, 
he prepared immediately to repeat the Lord's prayer. 
The thoughts of his family interrupted him; he called 
for pen and ink, and wrote two letters, one to his wife, 
the other to the king. The latter was as follows : 

" Sire, — This morning I have heard the sentence which 
your majesty has been pleased to pass upon me. Far as 
I have ever been from attempting anything against the 
person or service of your majesty, or against the true, 
old, and Catholic religion, I yet submit myself with 
patience to the fate which it has pleased God to ordain 
I should suffer. If, during the past disturbances, I have 


omitted, advised, or done anything that seems at variance 
with my duty, it was most assuredly j^erformed with the 
best intentions, or was forced upon me by the pressure 
of circumstances. I therefore pray your majesty to for- 
give me, and, in consideration of my past services, show 
mercy to my unhappy wife, my poor children, and ser- 
vants. In a firm hope of this, I commend myself to the 
infinite mercy of God. 

"Your majesty's most faithful vassal and servant, 

"Lamokal Count Egmont. 

"Brussels, June 5, 1568, near my last moments.'^ 

This letter he placed in the hands of the bishop, with 
the strongest injunctions for its safe delivery ; and for 
greater security he sent a duplicate in his own hand- 
writing to State Counsellor Viglius, the most upright man 
in the senate, by whom, there is no doubt, it was actually 
delivered to the king. The family of the count were 
subsequently reinstated in all his property, fiefs, and 
rights, which, by virtue of the sentence, had escheated to 
the royal treasury. 

Meanwhile a scaffold had been erected in the market- 
place, before the town hall, on which two poles were fixed 
with iron spikes, and the whole covered with black cloth. 
Two-and-twenty companies of the Spanish garrison sur- 
rounded the scaffold, a precaution which was by no means 
superfluous. Between ten and eleven o'clock the Spanish 
guard appeared in the apartment of the count ; they were 
provided with cords to tie his hands according to custom. 
He begged that this might be spared him, and declared 
that he was willing and ready to die. He himself cut off 
the collar from his doublet to facilitate the executioner's 
duty. He wore a robe of red damask, and over that a 
black Spanish cloak trimmed with gold lace. In this 
dress he appeared on the scaffold, and was attended by 
Don Julian Romero, maitre-de-camp ; Salinas, a Spanish 
captain; and the Bishop of Ypres. The grand provost 
of the court, with a red wand in his hand, sat on horse- 
back at the foot of the scaffold ; the executioner was con- 
cealed beneath. 


Egmont had at first shown a desire to address the 
people from the scaffold. He desisted, however, on the 
bishop's representing to him that either he would not be 
heard, or that if he were, he might — such at present was 
the dangerous disposition of the people — excite them to 
acts of violence, which would only plunge his friends into 
destruction. For a few moments he paced the scaffold 
with noble dignity, and lamented that it had not been 
permitted him to die a more honorable death for his king 
and his country. Up to the last he seemed unable to 
persuade himself that the king was in earnest, and that his 
severity would be carried any further than the mere ter- 
ror of execution. When the decisive period approached, 
and he was to receive the extreme unction, he looked 
wistfully round, and when there still appeared no pros- 
pect of a reprieve, he turned to Julian Romero, and 
asked him once more if there was no hope of pardon for 
him. Julian Romero shrugged his shoulders, looked on 
the ground, and was silent. 

He then closely clenched his teeth, threw off his mantle 
and robe, knelt upon the cushion, and prepared himself 
for the last prayer. The bishop presented him the crucifiy 
to kiss, and administered to him extreme unction, upon 
which the count made him a sign to leave him. He drew 
a silk cap over his eyes, and awaited the stroke. Over 
the corpse and the streaming blood a black cloth was 
immediately thrown. 

All Brussels thronged around the scaffold, and the 
fatal blow seemed to fall on every heart. Loud sobs 
alone broke the appalling silence. The duke himself, 
who watched the execution from a window of the town- 
house, wiped his eyes as his victim died. 

Shortly afterwards Count Horn advanced on the scaf- 
fold. Of a more violent temperament than his friend, 
and stimulated by stronger reasons for hatred against the 
king, he had received the sentence with less composure, 
although in his case, perhaps, it was less unjust. He 
burst forth in bitter reproaches against the king, and the 
bishop with difficulty prevailed upon him to make a better 
use of his last moments than to abuse them in impreca- 
tions on his enemies. At last, however, he became more 


collected, and made his confession to the bishop, which at 
first he was disposed to refuse. 

He mounted the scaffold with the same attendants as 
his friend. In passing he saluted many of his acquain- 
tances ; his hands were, like Egmont's, free, and he was 
dressed in a black doublet and cloak, with a Milan cap of 
the same color upon his head. When he had ascended, 
he cast his eyes upon the corpse, which lay under the 
cloth, and asked one of the bystanders if it was the body 
of his friend. On being answered in the affirmative, he 
said some words in Spanish, threw his cloak from him, 
and knelt upon the cushion. All shrieked aloud as he 
received the fatal blow. 

The heads of both were fixed upon the poles which 
were set up on the scaffold, where they remained until 
past three in the afternoon, when they were taken down, 
and, with the two bodies, placed in leaden coffins and 
deposited in a vault. 

In spite of the number of spies and executioners who 
surrounded the scaffold, the citizens of Brussels would 
not be prevented from dipping their handkerchiefs in the 
streaming blood, and carrying home with them these 
precious memorials. 

IN THE YEARS 1584 AND 1585. 

It is an interesting spectacle to observe the struggle of 
man's inventive genius in conflict with powerful opposing 
elements, and to see the difiiculties which are insurmount- 
able to ordinary capacities overcome by prudence, resolu- 
tion, and a determined will. Less attractive, but only 
the more instructive, perhaps, is the contrary spectacle, 
where the absence of those qualities renders all efforts of 
genius vain, throws away all the favors of fortune, and 
where inability to improve such advantages renders hope, 
less a success which otherwise seemed sure and inevitable. 
Examples of both kinds are afforded by the celebrated 
siege of Antwerp by the Spaniards towards the close of 
the sixteenth century, by which that flourishing city was 
forever deprived of its commercial prosperity, but which, 
on the other hand, conferred immortal fame on the general 
who undertook and accomplished it. 

Twelve years had the war continued which the north- 
ern provinces of Belgium had commenced at first in 
vindication simply of their religious freedom, and the 
privileges of their states, from the encroachments of the 
Spanish viceroy, but maintained latterly in the hope of 
establishing their independence of the Spanish crown. 
Never completely victors, but never entirely vanquished, 
they wearied out the Spanish valor by tedious operations 
on an unfavorable soil, and exhausted the wealth of the 
sovereign of both the Indies while they themselves were 
called beggars, and in a degree actually were so. The 
league of Ghent, which had united the whole Nether- 
lands, Roman Catholic and Protestant, in a common and 
(could such a confederation have lasted) invincible body, 
was indeed dissolved ; but in place of this uncertain and 
unnatural combination the northern provinces had, in the 
/ear 1579, formed among themselves the closer union of 
Utrecht, which promised to be more lasting, inasmuch as 
it was linked and held together by common political and 
leligious interests. What the new republic had lost in 



extent through this separation from the Roman Catholic 
provinces it was fully compensated for by the closeness 
of alliance, the unity of enterprise, and energy of exe- 
cution ; and perhaps it was fortunate in thus timely losing 
what no exertion probably would ever have enabled it to 

The greater part of the Walloon provinces had, in the 
year 1584, partly by voluntary submission and partly by 
force of arms, been again reduced under the Spanish 
yoke. The northern districts alone had been able at all 
successfully to oppose it. A considerable portion of 
Brabant and Flanders still obstinately held out against 
the arms of the Duke Alexander of Parma, who at that 
time administered the civil government of the provinces, 
and the supreme command of the army, with equal energy 
and prudence, and by a series of splendid victories had 
revived the military reputation of Spain. The peculiar 
formation of the country, which by its numerous rivers 
and canals facilitated the connection of tlie towns with 
one another and with the sea, baffled all attempts effect- 
ually to subdue it, and the possession of one place could 
only be maintained by the occupation of another. So 
long as this communication was kept up Holland and 
Zealand could with little difficulty assist their allies, and 
supply them abundantly by water as well as by land 
with all necessaries, so that valor was of no use, and the 
strength of the king's troops was fruitlessly wasted on 
tedious sieges. 

Of all the towns in Brabant Antwerp was the most 
important, as well from its wealth, its population, and its 
military force, as by its position on the mouth of the 
Scheldt, This great and populous town, which at this 
date contained more than eiglit}'^ thousand inhabitants, 
was one of the most active members of the national 
league, and had in the course of the war distinguished 
itself above all the towns of Belgium by an untamable 
spirit of liberty. As it fostered within its bosom all the 
three Christian churches, and owed much of its prosperity 
to this unrestricted religious liberty, it had the more cause 
to dread the Spanish rule, which threatened to abolish 
this toleration, and by the terror of the Inquisition to 


drive all the Protestant merchants from its markets. 
Moreover it had had but too terrible experience of the 
brutality of the Spanish garrisons, and it was quite 
evident that if it once more suffered this insupportable 
yoke to be imposed upon it it would never again during 
the whole course of the war be able to throw it off. 

But powerful as were the motives which stimulated 
Antwerp to resistance, equally strong were the reasons 
which determined the Spanish general to make himself 
master of the place at any cost. On the possession of 
this town depended in a great measure that of the whole 
province of Brabant, which by this channel chiefly derived 
its supplies of corn from Zealand, while the capture of 
this place would secure to the victor the command of the 
Scheldt. It would also deprive the league of Brabant, 
which held its meetings in the town, of its principal 
support ; the whole faction of its dangerous influence, of 
its example, its counsels, and its money, while the treas- 
ures of its inhabitants would open plentiful supplies for 
the military exigencies of the king. Its fall would sooner 
or later necessarily draw after it that of all Brabant, and 
the preponderance of power in that quarter would decide 
the whole dispute in favor of the king. Determined by 
these grave considerations, the Duke of Parma drew his 
forces together in July, 1584, and advanced from his 
position at Dornick to the neighborhood of Antwerp, 
with the intention of investing it. 

But both the natural position and fortifications of the 
town appeared to defy attacks. Surrounded on the side 
of Brabant with insurmountable works and moats, and 
towards Flanders covered by the broad and rapid stream 
of the Scheldt, it could not be carried by storm ; and to 
blockade a town of such extent seemed to require a land 
force three times larger than that which the duke had, 
and moreover a fleet, of which he was utterly destitute. 
ISTot only did the river yield the town all necessary 
supplies from Ghent, it also opened an easy communica- 
tion with the bordering province of Zealand. For, as the 
tide of the North Sea extends far up the Scheldt, and 
ebbs and flows regularly, Antwerp enjoys the peculiar 
advantage that the same tide flows past it at different 


times in two opposite directions. Besides, the adjacent 
towns of Brussels, Malines^ Ghent, Dendermonde, and 
others, were all at this time in the hands of the league, 
and could aid the place from the land side also. To 
blockade, therefore, the town by land, and to cut off its 
communication with Flanders and Brabant, required two 
different armies, one on each bank of the river. A suffi- 
cient fleet was likewise needed to guard the passage of 
the Scheldt, and to prevent all attempts at relief, which 
would most certainly be made from Zealand. But by the 
war which he had still to carry on in other quarters, and 
by the numerous garrisons which he was obliged to leave 
in the towns and fortified places, the army of the duke 
was reduced to ten thousand infantry and seventeen hun- 
dred horse, a force very inadequate for an undertaking of 
such magnitude. Moreover, these troops were deficient 
in the most necessary supplies, and the long arrears of 
pay had excited them to subdued murmurs, which hourly 
threatened to break out into open mutiny. If, notwith- 
standing these difficulties, he should still attempt the 
seige, there would be much occasion to fear from the 
strongholds of the enemy, which were left in the rear, and 
from which it would be easy, by vigorous sallies, to annoy 
an army distributed over so many places, and to expose 
it to want by cutting off its supplies. 

All these considerations w^ere brought forward by the 
council of war, before which the Duke of Parma now laid 
his scheme. However great the confidence which they 
placed in themselves, and in the proved abilities of such 
a leader, nevertheless the most experienced generals did 
not disguise their despair of a fortunate result. Two 
only were exceptions, Capizucchi and Mondragone, whose 
ardent courage placed them above all apprehensions ; the 
rest concurred in dissuading the duke from attempting 
so hazardous an enterprise, by which they ran the risk of 
forfeiting the fruit of all their former victories and 
tarnishing the glory they had already earned. 

But objections, which he had already made to himself 
and refuted, could not shake the Duke of Parma in his 
purpose. Not in ignorance of its inseparable dangers, 
not from thoughtless overvaluing his forces had he taken 


this bold resolve. But that instinctive genius which 
leads great men by paths which inferior minds either 
never enter upon or never finish, raised him above the 
influence of the doubts which a cold and narrow prudence 
would oppose to his views ; and, without being able to 
convince his generals, he felt the correctness of his calcu- 
lations in a conviction indistinct, indeed, but not on that 
account less indubitable. A succession of fortunate 
results had raised his confidence, and the sight of his 
army, unequalled in Europe for discipline, experience, 
and valor, and commanded by a chosen body of the most 
distinguished officers, did not permit him to entertain 
fear for a moment. To those who objected to the small 
number of his troops, he answered, that however long the 
pike, it is only the point that kills ; and that in military 
enterprise, the moving power was of more importance 
than the mass to be moved. He was aware, indeed, of 
the discontent of his troops, but he knew also their obedi- 
ence ; and he thought, moreover, that the best means to 
stifle their murmurs was by keeping them employed in 
some important undertaking, by stimulating their desire 
of glory by the splendor of the enterprise, and their 
rapacity by hopes of the rich booty which the capture 
of so wealthy a town would hold out. 

In the plan wliich he now formed for the conduct of 
the siege he endeavored to meet all these diflicuJties. 
Famine was the only instrument by which he could hope 
to subdue the town ; but effectually to use this formid- 
able weapon, it would be expedient to cut off all its land 
and water communications. With this view, the first 
object was to stop, or at least to impede, the arrival 
of supplies from Zealand. It was, therefore, requisite 
not only to carry all the outworks, which the people of 
Antwerp had built on both shores of the Scheldt for the 
protection of their shipping ; but also, wherever feasible, 
to throw up new batteries which should command the 
whole course of the river ; and to prevent the place from 
drawing supplies from the land side, while efforts were 
being made to intercept their transmission by sea, all the 
adjacent towns of Brabant and Flanders were compre- 
hended in the plan of the siege, and the fall of Antwerp was 

19— Schiller Vol. VII. 


based on the destruction of all those places. A bold and, 
considering the duke's scanty force, an almost extrava- 
gant project, which was, however, justified by the genius 
of its author, and crowned by fortune with a brilliant 

As, however, time was required to accomplish a plan of 
this magnitude, the Prince of Parma was content, for t .le 
present, with the erection of numerous forts on the canals 
and rivers which connected Antwerp with Dendermonde, 
Ghent, Malines, Brussels, and other places. Spanish gar- 
risons were quartered in the vicinity, and almost at the 
very gates of those towns, which laid waste the open 
country, and by their incursions kept the surrounding 
territory in alarm. Thus, round Ghent alone were en- 
camped about three thousand men, and proportionate 
numbers round the other towns. In this way, and by 
means of the secret understanding which he maintained 
with the Roman Catholic inhabitants of those towns, the 
duke hoped, without weakening his own forces, gradually 
to exhaust their strength, and by the harassing operations 
of a petty but incessant warfare, even without any formiTi 
siege, to reduce them at last to capitulate. 

In the meantime the main force was directed against 
Antwerp, which he now closely invested. He fixed his 
headquarters at Bevern in Flanders, a few miles from 
Antwerp, where he found a fortified camp. The protec- 
tion of the Flemish bank of the Scheldt was entrusted to 
the Margrave of Rysburg, general of cavalry; the Brabant 
bank to the Count Peter Ernest Yon Mansfeld, who was 
joined by another Spanish leader, Mondragone. Both the 
latter succeeded in crossing the Scheldt upon pontoons, 
notwithstanding the Flemish admiral's ship was sent to 
oppose them, and, passing Antwerp, took up their position 
at Stabroek in Bergen. Detached corps dispersed them- 
selves along the whole Brabant side, partly to secure the 
dykes and the roads. 

Some miles below Antwerp the Scheldt was guarded 
by two strong forts, of which one was situated at Lief- 
kenshoek on the island Doel, in Flanders, the otlier at 
Lillo, exactly opposite the coast of Brabant. The last 
had been erected by Mondragone himself, by order ol 


the Duke of Alva, when the latter was still master 
of Antwerp, and for this very reason the Duke of 
Parma now entrusted to him the attack upon it. 
On the possession of these two forts the success of 
the siege seemed wholly to depend, since all the vessels 
sailing from Zealand to Antwerp must pass under their 
guns. Both forts had a short time before been strength- 
ened by the besieged, and the former was scarcely finished 
when the Margrave of Rysburg attacked it. The celerity 
with which he went to work surprised the enemy before 
they were sufficiently prepared for defence, and a brisk 
assault quickly placed Liefkenshoek in the hands of the 
Spaniards. The confederates sustained this loss on the 
same fatal day that the Prince of Orange fell at Delft by 
the hands of an assassin. The other batteries, erected 
on the island of Doel, were partly abandoned by their 
defenders, partly taken by surprise, so that in a short 
time the whole Flemish side was cleared of the enemy. 
But the fort at Lillo, on the Brabant shore, offered a 
more vigorous resistance, since the people of Antwerp 
had had time to strengthen its fortifications and to pro- 
vide it with a strong garrison. Furious sallies of the 
besieged, led by Odets von Teligny, supported by the 
cannon of the fort, destroyed all the works of the Span- 
iards, and an inundation, which was effected by opening 
the sluices, finally drove them away from the place after 
a three weeks' siege, and with the loss of nearly two 
thousand killed. They now retired into their fortified 
camp at Stabroek, and contented themselves with taking 
possession of the dams which run across the lowlands of 
Bergen, and oppose a breastwork to the encroachments 
of the East Scheldt. 

The failure of his attempt upon the fort of Lillo com- 
p ailed the Prince of Parma to change his measures. As 
lie could not succeed in stopping the passage of the 
Scheldt by his original plan, on which the success of the 
siege entirely depended, he determined to effect his pur- 
pose by throwing a bridge across the whole breadth of 
the river. The thought was bold, and there were many 
who held it to be rash. Both the breadth of the stream, 
which at this part exceeds twelve hundred paces, as well 


as its violence, Avliicb is still further augmented by the 
tides of the neighboring sea, appeared to render every 
attempt of this kind impracticable. Moreover, he had to 
contend with a deficiency of timber, vessels, and work- 
men, as well as with the dangerous position between the 
fleets of Antwerp and of Zealand, to which it would neces- 
sarily be an easy task, in combination with a boisterous 
element, to interrupt so tedious a work. But the 
Prince of Parma knew his power, and his settled resolu- 
tion would yield to nothing short of absolute impossi- 
bility. After he had caused the breadth as well as the 
depth of the river to be measured, and had consulted 
with two of his most skilful engineers, Barocci and Plato, 
it was settled that the bridge should be constructed be- 
tween Calloo in Flanders and Ordam in Brabant. This 
spot was selected because the river is here narrow^est, 
and bends a little to the right, and so detains vessels a 
while by compelling them to tack. To cover the bridge 
strong bastions were erected at both ends, of which the 
one on the Flanders side was named Fort St. Maria, the 
other, on the Brabant side. Fort St. Philip, in honor of 
the king. 

While active preparations were making in the Spanish 
camp for the execution of this scheme, and the whole at- 
tention of the enemy was directed to it, the duke made 
an unexpected attack upon Dendermonde, a strong town 
between Ghent and Antwerp, at the confluence of the 
Dender and the Scheldt. As long as this important 
place was in the hands of the enemy the towns of Ghent 
and Antwerp could mutually support each other, and by 
the facility of their communication frustrate all the 
efforts of the besiegers. Its capture would leave the 
prince free to act against both towns, and might decide 
the fate of his undertaking. The rapidity of his attack 
left tlie besieged no time to open their sluices and lay the 
country under water. A hot cannonade was opened 
upon the chief bastion of tlie town before the Brussels 
gate, but was answered by the fire of the besieged, which 
made great havoc amongst the Spaniards. It increased, 
however, rather than discouraged their ardor, and the 
insults of the garrison, who mutilated the statue of a 


saint before their eyes, and after treating it with the most 
contumelious indignity, hurled it down from the rampart, 
raised their fury to the highest pitch. Clamorously they 
demanded to be led against the bastion before their fire 
had made a sufficient breach in it, and the prince, to avail 
himself of the first ardor of their impetuosity, gave the 
signal for the assault. After a sanguinary contest of two 
hours the rampart was mounted, and those who were not 
sacrificed to the first fury of the Spaniards threw them- 
selves into the town. The latter was indeed now more 
exposed, a fire being directed upon it from the works 
which had been carried ; but its strong walls and the 
broad moat which surrounded it gave reason to expect a 
protracted resistance. The inventive resources of the 
Frince of Parma soon overcame this obstacle also. 
While the bombardment was carried on night and day, 
the troops were incessantly employed in diverting the 
course of the Dender, which supplied the fosse with 
water, and the besieged were seized with despair as they 
saw the water of the trenches, the last defence of the 
town, gradually disappear. They hastened to capitulate, 
and in August, 1584, received a Spanish garrison. Thus, 
in the space of eleven days, the Prince of Parma accom- 
plished an undertaking which, in the opinion of com- 
petent judges, would require as many weeks. 

The town of Ghent, now cut off from Antwerp and 
the sea, and hard pressed by the troops of the king, 
which were encamped in its vicinity, and without hope 
of immediate succor, began to despair, as famine, w^ith 
all its dreadful train, advanced upon them with rapid 
steps. The inhabitants therefore despatched deputies to 
the Spanish camp at Bevern, to tender its submission to 
the king upon the same terms as the prince had a short 
time previously offered. The deputies were informed 
that the time for treaties was past, and that an uncondi- 
tional submission alone could appease the just anger of 
the monarch whom they had offended by their rebellion. 
Nay, they were even given to understand that it would 
be only through his great mercy if the same humiliation 
were not exacted from them as their rebellious ancestors 
were forced to undergo under Charles V., namely, to 


implore pardon half-naked, and with a cord round their 
necks. The deputies returned to Ghent in despair, but 
three days afterwards a new deputation was sent to the 
Spanish camp, which at last, by the intercession of one of 
the prince's friends, who was a prisoner in Ghent, obtained 
peace upon moderate terms. The town was to pay a 
fine of two hundred thousand florins, recall the banished 
papists, and expel the Protestant inhabitants, who, how- 
ever, were to be allowed two years for the settlement of 
their affairs. All the inhabitants except six, who were 
reserved for capital punishment (but afterwards par- 
doned), were included in a general amnesty, and the 
garrison, which amounted to two thousand men, was 
allowed to evacuate the place with the honors of war. 
This treaty was concluded in September of the same 
year, at the headquarters at Bevern, and immediately 
three thousand Spaniards marched into the town as a 

It was more by the terror of bis name and the dread 
of famine than by the force of arms that the Prince of 
Parma had succeeded in reducing this city to submission, 
the largest and strongest in the Netherlands, which was 
little inferior to Paris within the barriers of its inner 
town, consisted of thirty-seven thousand houses, and was 
buiit on twenty islands, connected by ninety-eight stone 
bridges. The important privileges which in the course 
of several centuries this city had contrived to extort 
from its rulers fostered in its inhabitants a spirit of inde- 
pendence, which not unfrequently degenerated into riot 
and license, and naturally brought it in collision with 
the Austrian-Spanish government. And it was exactly 
this bold spirit of liberty which procured for the Reforma- 
tion the rapid and extensive success it met with in this 
town, and the combined incentives of civil and religious 
freedom produced all those scenes of violence by which, 
during the rebellion, it had unfortunately^ distinguished 
itself. Besides the fine levied, the prince found within 
the walls a large store of artillery, carriages, ships, and 
building materials of all kinds, with numerous workmen 
and sailors, who materially aided him in his plans against 


Before Ghent surrendered to the king Yilvorden and 
Herentals had fallen into the hands of the Spaniards, 
and the capture of th« block-houses near the village of 
Willebrock had cut off Antwerp from Brussels and Ma- 
lines. The loss of these places within so short a period 
deprived Antwerp of all hope of succor from Brabant 
and Flanders, and limited all their expectations to the 
assistance which might be looked for from Zealand. But 
to deprive them also of this the Prince of Parma was 
now making the most energetic preparations. 

The citizens of Antwerp had beheld the first operations 
of the enemy against their town with the proud security 
with which the sight of their invincible river inspired 
them. This confidence was also in a degree justified by 
the opinion of the Prince of Orange, who, upon the first 
intelligence of the design, had said that the Spanish army 
would inevitably perish before the walls of Antwerp. 
That nothing, however, might be neglected, he sent, a 
short time before his assassination, for the burgomaster 
of Antwerp, Philip Marnix of St. Aldegonde, his inti- 
mate friend, to Delft, where he consulted with him as to 
the means of maintaining defensive operations. It was 
agreed between them that it would be advisable to de- 
molish forthwith the great dam between Sanvliet and 
Lillo called the Blaaugarendyk, so as to allow the waters 
of the East Scheldt to inundate, if necessary, the low- 
lands of Bergen, and thus, in the event of the Scheldt 
being closed, to open a passage for the Zealand vessels to 
the town across the inundated country. Aldegonde had, 
after his return, actually persw^ded tne magistrate and 
the majority of the citizens to Ap;ree to this proposal, 
when it was resisted by the gpi^d ot butchers, who 
claimed that they would be ruined by such a measure ; 
for the plain which it was wished to Iav under water was 
a vast tract of pasture land, upon which about twelve 
thousand oxen were annually put to graze. The objec- 
tion of the butchers was successful, and they managed 
to prevent the execution of this salutarv sehenie until 
the enemy had got possession of the dams as well as the 
pasture land. 

At the suggestion of the burgomaster St. Aldegonde, 


who, himself a member of the states of Brabant, was 
possessed of great authority in that council, the fortifica- 
tions on both sides the Scheldt had, a short time before 
the arrival of the Spaniards, been placed in repair, and 
many new redoubts erected round the town. The dams 
had been cut through at Saftingen, and the water of the 
West Scheldt let out over nearly the whole country of 
Waes. In the adjacent Marquisate of Bergen troops had 
been enlisted by the Count of Hohenlohe, and a Scotch 
regiment, under the command of Colonel Morgan, was 
already in the pay of the republic, while fresh reinforce- 
ments were daily expected from England and France. 
Above all, the states of Holland and Zealand were called 
upon to hasten their supplies. But after the enemy had 
taken strong positions on both sides of the river, and the 
fire of their batteries made the navigation dangerous, 
when place after place in Brabant fell into their hands, 
and their cavalry had cut off all communication on the 
land side, the inhabitants of Antwerp began at last to 
entertain serious apprehensions for the future. The town 
then contained eighty-five thousand souls, and according 
to calculation three hundred thousand quarters of corn 
were annually required for their support. At the begin- 
ning of the siege neither the supply nor the money was 
wanting for the laying in of such a store ; for in spite of 
the enemy's fire the Zealand victualing ships, taking ad- 
vantage of the rising tide, contrived to make their way 
to the town. All that was requisite was to prevent any 
of the richer citizens from buying up these supplies, and, 
in case of scarcity, raising the price. To secure his 
object, one Gianibelli from Mantua, who had rendered 
important services in the course of the siege, proposed a 
property tax of one penny in every hundred, and the 
appointment of a board of respectable persons to pur- 
chase corn with this money, and distribute it weekly. 
And until the returns of this tax should be available the 
richer classes should advance the required sum, holding 
the corn purchased, as a deposit, in their own magazines ; 
and were also to share in the profit. But this plan was 
unwelcome to the wealthier citizens, who had resolved to 
profit by the general distress. They recommended that 


every individual should be required to provide himself 
with a sufficient supply for two years ; a proposition which, 
however it might suit their own circumstances, was very 
unreasonable in regard to the poorer inhabitants, who, 
even before the siege, could scarcely find means to sup' 
ply themselves for so many months. They obtained 
indeed their object, which was to reduce the poor to the 
necessity of either quitting the place or becoming entirely 
their dependents. But when they afterwards reflected 
that in the time of need the rights of property would not 
be respected, they found it advisable not to be over-hasty 
in making their own purchases. 

The magistrate, in order to avert an evil that would 
have pressed upon individuals only, had recourse to an 
expedient which endangered the safety of all. Some 
enterprising persons in Zealand had freighted a large 
fleet with provisions, which succeeded in passing the guns 
of the enemy, and discharged its cargo at Antwerp. The 
hope of a large profit had tempted the merchants to enter 
upon this hazardous speculation ; in this, however, they 
were disappointed, as the magistrate of Antwerp had, just 
before their arrival, issued an edict regulating the price of 
all the necessaries of life. At the same time to prevent 
individuals from buying up the whole cargo and storing 
it in their magazines with a view of disposing of it after- 
wards at a dearer rate, he ordered that the whole should 
be publicly sold in any quantities from the vessels. The 
speculators, cheated of their hopes of profit by these pre- 
cautions, set sail again, ^nd left Antwerp with the greater 
part of their cargo, which would have sufficed for the 
support of the town for several months. 

This neglect of the most essential and natural means 
of preservation can only be explained by the supposition 
that the inhabitants considered it absolutely impossible 
ever to close the Scheldt completely, and consequently 
had not the least apprehension that things would come to 
extremity. When the intelligence arrived in Antwerp 
that the prince intended to throw a bridge over the 
Scheldt the idea was universally ridiculed as chimerical. 
An arrogant comparison was drawn between the republic 
and the stream, and it was said that the one would bear 


the Spanish yoke as little as the other. " A river which 
is twenty-four hundred feet broad, and, with its own 
waters alone, above sixty feet deep, but which with 
the tide rose twelve feet more — would such a stream," 
it was asked, " submit to be spanned by a miserable piece 
of paling? Where were beams to be found high enough 
to reach to the bottom and project above the surface? 
and how was a work of this kind to stand in winter, 
when whole islands and mountains of ice, which stone 
walls could hardly resist, would be driven by the flood 
against its weak timbers, and splinter them to pieces like 
glass? Or, perhaps, the prince purposed to construct a 
bridge of boats ; if so, where would he procure the latter, 
and how bring them into his intrenchments ? They must 
necessarily be brought past Antwerp, where a fleet was 
ready to capture or sink them." 

But while they were trying to prove the absurdity of 
the Prince of Parma's undertaking he had already com- 
pleted it. As soon as the forts St. Maria and St. Philip 
were erected, and protected the workmen and the work 
by their fire, a pier was built out into the stream from 
both banks, for which purpose the masts of the largest 
vessels were employed ; by a skilful arrangement of the 
timbers they contrived to give the whole such solidity 
that, as the result proved, it was able to resist the violent 
pressure of the ice. These timbers, which rested firmly 
and securely on the bottom of the river, and projected a 
considerable height above it, being covered with planks, 
afforded a commodious roadway. It was wide enough to 
allow eight men to cross abreast, and a balustrade that 
ran along it on both sides, protected them from the fire 
of small-arms from the enemy's vessels. This " stacade," 
as it was called, ran from the two opposite shores as 
far as the increasing depth and force of the stream al- 
lowed. It reduced the breadth of the river to about 
eleven hundred feet ; as, however, the middle and proper 
current would not admit of such a barrier, there re- 
mained, therefore, between the two stacades a space of 
more than six hundred paces through which a whole fleet 
of transports could sail with ease. This intervening space 
the prince designed to close by a bridge of boats, for 


which purpose the craft must be procured from Dunkirko 
But, besides that they could not be obtained in any num 
ber at that place, it would be difficult to bring them past 
Antwerp without great loss. He was, therefore, obliged 
to content himself for the time with having narrowed 
the stream one-half, and rendered the passage of the 
enemy's vessels so much the more difficult. Where 
the stacades terminated in the middle of the stream they 
spread out into parallelograms, which were mounted with 
heavy guns, and served as a kind of battery on the water 
From these a heavy fire was opened on every vessel that 
attempted to pass through this narrow channel. Wliole 
fleets, however, and single vessels still attempted and 
succeeded in passing this dangerous strait. 

Meanwhile Ghent surrendered, and this unexpected 
success at once rescued the prince from his dilemma„ He 
found in this town everything necessary to comj^lete his 
bridge of boats ; and the only difficulty now was its safe 
transport, which was furnished by the enemy themselves. 
By cutting the dams at Saftingen a great part of the 
country of Waes, as far as the village of Borcht, had 
been laid under water, so that it was not difficult to cross 
it with flat-bottomed boats. The prince, therefore, ordered 
his vessels to run out from Ghent, and after passing Den- 
dermonde and Rupelmonde to pass through the left dyke 
of the Scheldt, leaving Antwerp to the right, and sail 
over the inundated fields in the direction of Borcht. To 
protect this passage a fort was erected at the latter vil- 
lage, which would keep the enemy in check. All suc- 
ceeded to his wishes, though not without a sharp action 
with the enemy's flotilla, which was sent out to intercept 
this convoy. After breaking through a few more dams 
on their route, they reached the Spanish quarters at Calloo, 
and successfully entered the Scheldt again. The exulta- 
tion of the army was greater when they discovered the 
extent of the danger the vessels had so narrowly escaped. 
Scarcely had they got quit of the enemy's vessels when 
a strong reinforcement from Antwerp got under weigh, 
commanded by the valiant defender of Lillo, Odets von 
Teligny. When this officer saw that the affair was over, 
and that the enemy had escaped, he took possession of the 


dam through which their fleet had passed, and threw up 
a fort on the spot in order to stop the passage of any 
vessels from Ghent which might attempt to follow them. 

By this step the prince was again throAvn into embar- 
rassment. He was far from having as yet a sufficient 
number of vessels, either for the construction of the bridge 
or for its defence, and the passage by which the former 
convoy had arrived was now closed by the fort erected 
by Teligny. While he was reconnoitring the country to 
discover a new way for his fleets an idea occurred to 
him which not only put an end to his present dilemma, 
but greatly accelerated the success of his whole plan. 
Not far from the village of Stecken, in Waes, which is 
within some five thousand paces of the commencement of 
the inundation, flows a small stream called the Moer, 
which falls into the Scheldt near Ghent. From this river 
he caused a canal to be dug to the spot where the inun- 
dations began, and as the water of these was not every- 
where deep enough for the transit of his boats, the canal 
between Bevern and Yerrebroek was continued to Calloo, 
where it was met by the Scheldt. At this work five 
hundred pioneers labored without intermission, and in 
order to cheer the toil of the soldiers the prince himself 
took part in it. In this way did he imitate the example 
of the two celebrated Romans, Drusus and Corbulo, who 
by similar works had united the Rhine with the Zuyder 
Zee, and the Maes with the Rhine ? 

This canal, which the army in honor of its projector 
called the canal of Parma, was fourteen thousand paces 
in length, and was of proportionable depth and breadth, 
so as to be navigable for ships of a considerable burden. 
It afforded to the vessels from Ghent not only a more 
secure, but also a much shorter course to the Spanish 
quarters, because it was no longer necessary to follow the 
many windings of the Scheldt, but entering the Moer at 
once near Ghent, and from thence passing close to 
Stecken, they could proceed through the canal and across 
the inundated country as far as Calloo. As the produce 
of all Flanders was brought to the town of Ghent, this 
canal placed the Spanish camp in communication with the 
whole province. Abundance poured into the camp from 


all quarters, so that during the whole course of the siege 
the Spaniards suffered no scarcity of any kind. But the 
greatest benefit which the prince derived from this work 
was an adequate supply of flat-bottomed vessels to com- 
plete his bridge. 

These preparations were overtaken by the arrival of 
winter, which, as the Scheldt was filled with drift-ice, 
occasioned a considerable delay in the building of the 
bridge. The prince had contemplated with anxiety the 
approach of this season, lest it should prove highly destruc- 
tive to the work he had undertaken, and afford the enemy 
a favorable opportunity for making a serious attack upon 
it. But the skill of his engineers saved him from the one 
danger, and the strange inaction of the enemy freed him 
from the other. It frequently happened, indeed, that at 
flood-time large pieces of ice were entangled in the 
timbers, and shook them violently, but they stood the 
assault of the furious element, which only served to prove 
their stability. 

In Antwerp, meanwhile, important moments had been 
wasted in futile deliberations ; and in a struggle of fac- 
tions the general welfare was neglected. The government 
of the town was divided among too many heads, and 
much too great a share in it was held by the riotous mob 
to allow room for calmness of deliberation or firmness of 
action. Besides the municipal magistracy itself, in which 
the burgomaster had only a single voice, there were in 
the city a number of guilds, to whom were consigned the 
charge of the internal and external defence, the provis- 
ioning of the town, its fortifications, the marine, com- 
merce, etc. ; some of whom must be consulted in every 
business of importance. By means of this crowd of 
speakers, who intruded at pleasure into the council, and 
managed to carry by clamor and the number of their 
adherents what they could not effect by their arguments, 
the people obtained a dangerous influence in the public 
debates, and the natural struggle of such discordant 
interests retarded the execution of every salutary meas- 
ure. A government so vacillating and impotent could 
not command the respect of unruly sailors and a lawless 
soldiery. The orders of the state consequently wer^ but 


imperfectly obeyed, and the decisive moment was more 
than once lost by the negligence, not to say the open 
mutiny, both of the land and sea forces. 

The little harmony in the selection of the means by 
which the enemy was to be opposed would not, however, 
have proved so injurious had there but existed unanimity 
as to the end. But on this very point the wealthy citi- 
zens and poorer classes were divided ; so the former, 
liaving everything to apprehend from allowing matters to 
be carried to extremity, were strongly inclined to treat 
with the Prince of Parma. This disposition they did not 
even attempt to conceal after the fort of Liefkenshoek had 
fallen into the enemy's hands, and serious fears were 
entertained for the navigation of the Scheldt. Some of 
them, indeed, withdrew entirely from the danger, and 
left to its fate the town, whose prosperity they had been 
ready enough to share, but in whose adversity they were 
unwilling to bear a part. From sixty to seventy of those 
who remained memorialized the council, advising that 
terms should be made with the king. No sooner, how- 
ever, had the populace got intelligence of it than their 
indignation broke out in a violent uproar, which was with 
difiiculty appeased by the imprisonment and fining of the 
petitioners. Tranquillity could only be fully restored by 
publication of an edict, which imposed the j^enalty of 
death on all who either publicly or privately should 
countenance proposals for peace. 

The Prince of Parma did not fail to take advantas^e of 
these disturbances ; for nothing that transpired within 
the city escaped his notice, being well served by the 
agents with whom he maintained a secret understanding 
with Antwerp, as well as the other towns of Brabant and 
Flanders. Although he had already made considerable 
progress in his measures for distressing the town, still he 
had many steps to take before he could actually make 
himself master of it ; and one unlucky moment might 
destroy the work of many months. Without, therefore, 
neglecting any of his warlike preparations, he determined 
to make one more serious attempt to get possession by 
fair means. With this object he despatched a letter in 
November to the great council of Antwerp, in which he 


skilfully made use of every topic likely to induce the 
citizens to come to terms, or at least to increase their 
existing dissensions. He treated them in this letter in 
the light of persons who had been led astray, and threw 
the whole blame of their revolt and refractory conduct 
hitherto upon the intriguing spirit of the Prince of 
Orange, from whose artifices the retributive justice of 
heaven had so lately liberated them. " It was," he said, 
" now in their power to awake from their long infatuation 
and return to their allegiance to a monarch who was 
ready and anxious to be reconciled to his subjects. For 
this end he gladly offered himself as mediator, as he had 
never ceased to love a country in which he had been born, 
and where he had spent the happiest days of his youth. 
He therefore exhorted them to send plenipotentiaries 
with whom he could arrange the conditions of peace, 
and gave them hopes of obtaining reasonable terras if 
they made a timely submission, but also threatened 
them with the severest treatment if they pushed matters 
to extremity." 

This letter, in which we are glad to recognize a lan- 
guage very different from that which the Duke of Alva 
held ten years before on a similar occasion, was answered 
by the townspeople in a respectful and dignified tone. 
While they did full justice to the personal character of 
the prince, and acknowledged his favorable intentions 
towards them with gratitude, they lamented the hardness 
of the times, which placed it out of his power to treat 
them in accordance with his character and disposition. 
They declared that tliey would gladly place their fate in 
his hands if he were absolute master of his actions, 
instead of being obliged to obey the will of another, 
whose proceedings his own candor would not allow him 
to approve of. The unalterable resolution of the Kino" 
of Spain, as well as the vow which he had made to the 
pope, were only too well known for them to have any 
hopes in that quarter. They at the same time defended 
with a noble warmth the memory of the Prince of Orange, 
their benefactor and preserver, while they enumerated 
the true cases which had produced this unhappy war, 
and had caused the provinces to revolt from the Spanish 


crown. At the same time they did not disguise from 
him that they had hopes of finding a new and a 
milder master in the King of France, and that, if only 
for this reason, they could not enter into any treaty with 
the Spanish king without incurring the charge of the 
most culpable fickleness and ingratitude. 

The united provinces, in fact, dispirited by a succession 
of reverses, had at last come to the determination of 
placing themselves under the protection and sovereignty 
of France, and of preserving their existence and their 
ancient privileges by the sacrifice of their independence. 
With this view an embassy had some time before been 
despatched to Paris, and it was the prospect of this pow- 
erful assistance which principally supported the courage 
of the people of Antwerp. Henry III., King of France, 
was personally disposed to accept this offer; but the 
troubles which the intrigues of the Spaniards contrived 
to excite within his own kingdom compelled him against 
his will to abandon it. The provinces now turned for 
assistance to Queen Elizabeth of England, who sent them 
some supplies, which, however, came too late to save 
Antwerp. While the people of this city were awaiting 
the issue of these negotiations, and expecting aid from 
foreign powers, they neglected, unfortunately, the most 
natural and immediate means of defence ; the. whole 
winter was lost, and while the enemy turned it to greater 
advantage the more complete was their indecision and 

The burgomaster of Antwerp, St. Aldegonde, had, 
indeed, repeatedly urged the fleet of Zealand to attack 
the enemy's works, which should be supported on the 
other side from Antwerp. The long and frequently 
stormy nights w^ould favor this attempt, and if at the 
same time a sally were made by the garrison at Lillo, it 
seemed scarcely possible for the enemy to resist this triple 
assault. But unfortunately misunderstandings had arisen 
between the commander of the fleet, William von Blois 
von Treslong, and the admiralty of Zealand, which 
caused the equipment of the fleet to be most unaccountar 
bly delayed. In order to quicken their movements 
Teligny at last resolved to go himself to Middleburg, 


were the states of Zealand were assembled ; but as the 
enemy were in possession of all the roads the attempt cost 
him his freedom and the republic its most valiant 
defender. However, there was no want of enterprising 
vessels, which, under the favor of the night and the flood- 
tide, passing through the still open bridge in spite of the 
enemy's fire, threw provisions into the town and returned 
with the ebb. But as many of these vessels fell into the 
hands of the enemy the council gave orders that they 
should never risk the passage unless they amounted to a 
certain number ; and the result, unfortunately, was that 
none attempted it because the required number could not 
be collected at one time. Several attacks were also made 
from Antwerp on the ships of the Spaniards, which were 
not entirely unsuccessful ; some of the latter were cap- 
tured, others sunk, and all that was required was to exe- 
cute similar attempts on a grand scale. But however 
zealously St. Aldegonde urged this, still not a captain 
was to be found who would command a vessel for that 

Amid these delays the winter expired, and scarcely had 
the ice begun to disappear when the construction of the 
bridge of boats was actively resumed by the besiegers. 
Between the two piers a space of more than six hundred 
paces still remained to be filled up, which was effected in 
the following manner : Thirty-two flat-bottomed vessels, 
each sixty-six feet long and twenty broad, were fastened 
together with strong cables and iron chains, but at a dis- 
tance from each other of about twenty feet to allow a 
free passage to the stream. Each boat, moreover, was 
moored with two cables, both up and down the stream, 
but which, as the water rose with the tide, or sunk with 
the ebb, could be slackened or tightened. Upon the 
boats great masts were laid which reached from one to 
another, and, being covered with planks, formed a regular 
road, which, like that along the piers, was protected with 
a balustrade. This bridge of boats, of which the two piers 
formed a continuation, had, including the latter, a length 
of twenty-four thousand paces. This formidable work 
was so ingeniously constructed, and so richly furnished 
with the instruments of destruction, that it seemed almost 

20— Schiller Vol. VII. 


capable, like a living creature, of defending itself at the 
word of command, scattering death among all who 
approached. Besides the two forts of St. Maria and St. 
Philip, which terminated the bridge on either shore, and 
the two wooden bastions on the bridge itself, which were 
filled with soldiers and mounted with guns on all sides, 
each of the two-and-thirty vessels was manned with thirty 
soldiers and four sailors, and showed the cannon's mouth 
to the enemy, whether he came up from Zealand or down 
from Antwerp. There were in all ninety-seven cannon, 
which were distributed beneath and above the bridge, 
and more than fifteen hundred men who were posted, 
partly in the forts, partly in the vessels, and, in case of 
necessity, could maintain a terrible fire of small-arms 
upon the enemy. 

But with all this the prince did not consider his work 
sufficiently secure. It was to be expected that the enemy 
would leave nothing unatterapted to burst by the force 
of his machines the middle and weakest part. To guard 
against this, he erected in a line with the bridge of boats, 
but at some distance from it, another distinct defence, 
intended to break the force of any attack that might be 
directed against the bridge itself. This work consisted 
of thirty-three vessels of considerable magnitude, which 
were moored in a row athwart the stream and fastened 
in threes by masts, so that they formed eleven different 
groups. Each of these, like a file of pikemen, presented 
fourteen long wooden poles with iron beads to the ap- 
proaching enemy. These vessels were loaded merely 
with ballast, and were anchored each by a double but 
slack cable, so as to be able to give to the rise and fall of 
the tide. As they were in constant motion they got from 
the soldiers the name of " swimmers." The whole bridge 
of boats and also a part of the piers were covered by 
these swimmers, which were stationed above as well as 
below the bridge. To all these defensive preparations 
was added a fleet of forty men-of-war, which were sta- 
tioned on both coasts and served as a protection to the 

This astonishing work was finished in March, 1585, the 
seventh month of the siege, and the day on which it was 


completed was kept as a jubilee by the troops. The 
great event was announced to the besieged by a grand 
feu de joie, and the army, as if to enjoy ocular demon- 
stration of its triumph, extended itself along the whole 
platform to gaze upon the proud stream, peacefully and 
obediently flowing under the yoke which had been 
imposed upon it. All the toil they had undergone was 
forgotton in the delightful spectacle, and every man who 
had had a hand in it, however insignificant he might be, 
assumed to himself a portion of the honor which the 
successful execution of so gigantic an enterprise conferred 
on its illustrious projector. On the other hand, nothing 
could equal the consternation which seized the citizens of 
Antwerp when intelligence was brought them that the 
Scheldt was now actually closed, and all access from 
Zealand cut off. To increase their dismay they learned 
the fall of Brussels also, which had at last been com- 
pelled by famine to capitulate. An attempt made by 
the Count of Hohenlohe about the same time on Herzo- 
genbusch, with a view to recapture the town, or at least 
form a diversion, was equally unsuccessful ; and thus the 
unfortunate city lost all hope of assistance, both by sea 
and land. 

These evil tidings were brought them by some fugi- 
tives who had succeeded in passing the Spanish videttes, 
and had made their way into the town ; and a spy, whom 
the burgomaster had sent out to reconnoitre the enemy's 
works, increased the general alarm by his report. He 
had been seized and carried before the Prince of Parma, 
who commanded him to be conducted over all the works, 
and all the defences of the bridge to be pointed out to 
him. After this had been done he was again brought 
before the general, who dismissed him with these words: 
" Go," said he, " and report what you have seen to those 
who sent you. And tell them, too, that it is my firm 
resolve to bury myself under the ruins of this bridge or 
by means of it to pass into your town." 

But the certainty of danger now at last awakened the 
zeal of the confederates, and it was no fault of theirs if 
the former half of the prince's vow was not fulfilled. 
The latter had long viewed with apprehension the prep- 


arations which were makmg in Zealand for the relief of 
the town. He saw clearly that it was from this quarter 
that he had to fear the most dangerous ^ow, and that 
with all his works he could not make hei.r aga^rjst the 
combined fleets of Zealand and Antwerp if le^, were to 
fall upon him at the same time and at the proper mo- 
ment. For a while the delays of the admiral of Zealand, 
which he had labored by all the means in his power to 
prolong, had been his security, but now the urgent neces- 
sity accelerated the expedition, and without waiting for 
the admiral the states at Middleburg despatched the 
Count Justin of Nassau, with as many ships as they 
could muster, to the assistance of the besieged. This 
fleet took up a position before Liefkenshoek, w^hich was 
in possession of the Spaniards, and, supported by a few 
vessels from the opposite fort of Lillo, cannonaded it 
with such success that the walls were in a short time 
demolished, and the place carried by storm. The Wal- 
loons who formed the garrison did not display the firm- 
ness which might have been expected from soldiers of 
the Duke of Parma; they shamefully surrendered the 
fort to the enemy, who in a short time were in possession 
of the whole island of Doel, with all the redoubts sit- 
uated upon it. The loss of these places, which were, 
however, soon retaken, incensed the Duke of Parma so 
much that he tried the ofiicers by court-martial, and 
caused the most culpable among them to be beheaded. 
Meanwhile this important conquest opened to the Zea- 
landers a free passage as far as the bridge, and after con- 
certing with the people of Antwerp the time was fixed 
for a combined attack on this work. It was arranged 
that, while the bridge of boats was blown up by machines 
already prepared in Antwerp, the Zealand fleet, with a 
suflicient supply of provisions, should be in the vicinity, 
ready to sail to the town through the opening. 

While the Duke of Parma was engaged in constructing 
his bridge an engineer within the walls was already pre- 
paring the materials for its destruction. Frederick 
Gianibelli was the name of the man whom fate had 
destined to be the Archimedes of Antwerp, and to ex- 
haust in its defence the same ingenuity with the same 


want of success. He was born in Mantua, and had 
formerly visited Madrid for the purpose, it was said, of 
offering his services to King Philip in the Belgian war. 
But wearied with waiting the offended engineer left the 
court with the intention of making the King of Spain 
sensibly feel the value of talents which he had so little 
known how to appreciate. He next sought the service of 
Queen Elizabeth of England, the declared enemy of Spain, 
who, after witnessing a few specimens of his skill, sent 
liim to Antwerp. He took up his residence in that town, 
and in the present extremity devoted to its defence his 
knowledge, his energy, and his zeal. 

As soon as this artist perceived that the project of 
erecting the bridge was seriously intended, and that the 
work was fast approaching to completion, he applied to 
the magistracy for three large vessels, from a hundred 
and fifty to five hundred tons, in which he proposed to 
place mines. He also demanded sixty boats, which, 
fastened together with cables and chains, furnished with 
projecting grappling-irons, and put in motion with the 
ebbing of the tide, were intended to second the operation 
of the mine-ships by being directed in a wedgelike form 
against the bridge. But he had to deal with men w^ho 
were quite incapable of comprehending an idea out of 
the common way, and even where the salvation of their 
country was at stake could not forget the calculating 
habits of trade. 

His scheme was rejected as too expensive, and with 
difficulty he at last obtained the grant of two smaller 
vessels, from seventy to eighty tons, with a number of 
flat-bottomed boats. With these two vessels, one of 
which he called the " Fortune " and the other the " Hope," 
he proceeded in the following manner : In the hold of 
each he built a hollow chamber of freestone, five feet 
broad, three and a half high, and forty long. This maga- 
zine he filled with sixty hundredweight of the finest 
priming powder of his own compounding, and covered it 
with as heavy a weight of large slabs and millstones as 
the vessels could carry. Over these he further added a 
roof of similar stones, which ran up to a point and pro- 
jected six feet above the ship's side. The deck itself 


was crammed with iron chains and hooks, knives, nails, 
and other destructive missiles; the remaining space, 
which was not occupied by the magazine, was likewise 
filled up with planks. Several small apertures were left 
in the chamber for the matches which were to set fire to 
the mine. For greater certainty he had also contrived a 
piece of mechanism which, after the lapse of a given time, 
would strike out sparks, and even if the matches failed 
would set the ship on fire. To delude the enemy into a 
belief that these machines were only intended to set the 
bridge on fire, a composition of brimstone and pitch was 
placed in the top, which could burn a whole hour. And 
still further to divert the enemy's attention from the 
proper seat of danger, he also prepared thirty-two flat- 
bottomed boats, upon which there were only fireworks 
burning, and whose sole object was to deceive the enemy. 
These fire-ships were to be sent down upon the bridge in 
four separate squadrons, at intervals of half an hour, and 
keep the enemy incessantly engaged for two whole hours, 
so that, tired of firing and wearied by vain expectation, 
they might at last relax their vigilance before the real 
fire-ships came. In addition to all this he also despatched 
a few vessels in which powder was concealed in order to 
blow up the floating work before the bridge, and to clear 
a passage for the two principal ships. At the same time 
he hoped by this preliminary attack to engage the enemy's 
attention, to draw them out, and expose them to the full 
deadly effect of the volcano. 

The night between the 4th and 5th of April was fixed 
for the execution of this great undertaking. An obscure 
rumor of it had already diffused itself through the Span- 
ish camp, and particularly from the circumstance of many 
divers from Antwerp having been detected endeavoring 
to cut the cables of the vessels. They were prepared, 
therefore, for a serious attack; they only mistook the 
real nature of it, and counted on having to fight rather 
with man than the elements. In this expectation the 
duke caused the guards along the whole bank to be 
doubled, and drew up the chief part of his troops in the 
vicinity of the bridge, where he was present in person ; 
thus meeting the danger while endeavoring to avoid it 


No sooner was it dark than three burning vessels were 
seen to float down from the city towards the bridge, 
then three more, and directly after the same number. 
They beat to arms throughout the Spanish camp, and the 
whole length of the bridge was crowded with soldiers. 
Meantime the number of the fire-ships increased, and they 
came in regular order down the stream, sometimes two 
and sometimes three abreast, being at first steered by 
sailors on board them. The admiral of the Antwerp 
fleet, Jacob Jacobson (whether designedly or through 
carelessness is not known), had committed the error of 
sending off the four squadrons of fire-ships too quickly 
one after another, and caused the two large mine-ships 
also to follow them too soon, and thus disturbed the 
intended order of attack. 

The array of vessels kept approaching, and the dark- 
ness of night still further heightened the extraordinary 
spectacle. As far as the eye could follow the course of 
the stream all was fire ; the fire-ships burning as brilliantly 
as if they were themselves in the flames ; the surface of 
the water glittered with light ; the dykes and the bat- 
teries along the shore, the flags, arms, and accoutrements 
of the soldiers who lined the rivers as well as the bridges 
were clearly distinguishable in the glare. With a mingled 
sensation of awe and pleasure the soldiers watched the 
unusual sight, which rather resembled a fete than a 
hostile preparation, but from the very strangeness of the 
contrast filled the mind with a mysterious awe. When 
the burning fleet had come within two thousand paces of 
the bridge those who had the charge of it lighted the 
matches, impelled the two mine-vessels into the middle 
of the stream, and leaving the others to the guidance of 
the currcixi of the waves, they hastily made their escape 
in boats which had been kept in readiness. 

Their course, however, was irregular, and destitute of 
steersmen they arrived singly and separately at the float- 
ing works, where they continued hanging or were dashed 
off sidewise on the shore. The foremost powder-ships, 
which were intended to set fire to the floating works, 
were cast, by the force of a squall which arose at that 
instant, on the Flemish coast. One of the two, the " For- 


tune," grounded in its passage before it reached the bridge, 
and killed by its explosion some Spanish soldiers who were 
at work in a neighboring battery. The other and larger 
fire-ship, called the " Hope," narrowly escaped a similar 
fate. The current drove her against the floating defences 
towards the Flemish bank, where it remained hanging, 
and had it taken fire at that moment the greatest part of 
its effect would have been lost. Deceived by the flames 
which this machine, like the other vessels, emitted, the 
Spaniards took it for a common fire-ship, intended to burn 
the bridge of boats. And as they had seen them ex- 
tingcuished one after the other without further effect all 
fears were dispelled, and the Spaniards began to ridicule 
the preparations of the enemy, Avhich had been ushered 
in with so much display and now had so absurd an end. 
Some of the boldest threw themselves into the stream in 
order to get a close view of the fire-ship and extinguish it, 
when by its weight it suddenly broke through, burst the 
floating work which had detained it, and drove with 
terrible force on the bridsre of boats. All was now in 
commotion on the bridge, and the prince called to the 
sailors to keep the vessel off with poles, and to extinguish 
the flames before they caught the timbers. 

At this critical moment he was standing at the farthest 
end of the left pier, where it formed a bastion in the 
water and joined the bridge of boats. By his side stood 
the Margrave of Rysburg, general of cavalry and gov- 
ernor of the province of Artois, who had formerly served 
the states, but from a protector of the republic had 
become its worst enemy ; tbe Baron of Billy, governor of 
Friesland and commander of the German regiments ; the 
Generals Cajetan and Guasto, with several of the principal 
oflicers; all forgetful of their own danger and entirely 
occupied with averting the general calamity. At this 
moment a Spanish ensign approached the Prince of 
Parma and conjured him to remove from a place where 
his life was in manifest and imminent peril. No attention 
being paid to his entreaty he repeated it still more ur- 
gently, and at last fell at his feet and implored him in 
this one instance to take ad't^ice from his servant. While 
he said this he had laid hoVI of the duke's coat as though 


he wished forcibly to draw him away from the spot, and 
the latter, surprised rather at the man's boldness than 
persuaded by his arguments, retired at last to the shore, 
attended by Cajetan and Guasto. He had scarcely time 
to reach the fort St. Maria at the end of the bridge when 
an explosion took place behind him, just as if the earth 
had burst or the vault of heaven given way. The duke 
and his whole army fell to the ground as dead, and 
several minutes elapsed before they recovered their con- 

But then what a sight presented itself! The waters of 
the Scheldt had been divided to its lowest depth, and 
driven with a surge which rose like a wall above the dam 
that confined it, so that all the fortifications on the banks 
were several feet under water. The earth shook for three 
miles round. Nearly the whole left pier, on which the 
fire-ship had been driven, with a part of the bridge of 
boats, had been burst and shattered to atoms, with all 
that was upon it ; spars, cannon, and men blown into the 
air. Even the enormous blocks of stone which had 
covered the mine had, by the force of the explosion, been 
hurled into the neighboring fields, so that many of them 
were afterwards dug out of the ground at a distance of a 
thousand paces from the bridge. Six vessels were buried, 
several had gone to pieces. But still more terrible was 
the carnao^e which the murderous machine had dealt 
amongst the soldiers. Five hundred, according to other 
reports even eight hundred, were sacrificed to its fury, 
without reckoning those who escaped with mutilated or 
injured bodies. The most opposite kinds of death were 
combined in this frightful moment. Some were con- 
sumed by the flames of the explosion, others scalded to 
death by the boiling water of the river, others stifled 
by the poisonous vapor of the brimstone ; some were 
drowned in the stream, some buried under the hail of 
falling masses of rock, m any cut to pieces by the knives 
and hooks, or shattered by the balls which were poured 
from the bowels of the machine. Some were found life= 
less without any visible injury, having in all probability 
been killed by the mere concussion of the air. The spec- 
tacle which presented itself directly after the firing of the 


mine was fearful. Men were seen wedged between the 
palisades of the bridge, or struggling to release them- 
selves from beneath ponderous masses of rock, or hanging 
in the rigging of the ships; and from all places and 
quarters the most heartrending cries for help arose, but 
as each was absorbed in his own safety these could only 
be answered by helpless wailings. 

Many had escaped in the most wonderful manner. An 
officer named Tucci was carried by the whirlwind like a 
feather high into the air, where he was for a moment 
suspended, and then dropped into the river, where he 
saved himself by swimming. Another was taken up by 
the force of the blast from the Flanders shore and de- 
posited on that of Brabant, incurring merely a slight 
contusion on the shoulder ; he felt, as he afterwards said, 
during this rapid aerial transit, just as if he had been 
fired out of a cannon. The Prince of Parma himself had 
never been so near death as at that moment, when half a 
minute saved his life. He had scarcely set foot in the 
fort of St. Maria when he was lifted oft his feet as if by 
a hurricane, and a beam which struck him on the head 
and shoulders stretched him senseless on the earth. For 
a long time he was believed to be actually killed, many 
remembering to have seen him on the bridge only a few 
minutes before the fatal explosion. He was found at 
last between his attendants, Cajetan and Guasto, raising 
himself up with his hand on his sword ; and the intelli- 
gence stirred the spirits of the whole army. But vain 
would be the attempt to depict his feelings when he sur- 
vej^ed the devastation which a single moment had caused 
in the work of so many months. The bridge of boats, 
upon which all his hopes rested, was rent asunder; a 
great part of his army was destroyed; another portion 
maimed and rendered ineffective for many days ; many 
of his best officers were killed; and, as if the present 
calamity were not sufficient, he had now to learn the 
painful intelligence that the Margrave of Rysburg, whom 
of all his officers he prized the highest, was missing. And 
yet the worst was still to come, for every moment the 
fleets of the enemy were to be expected from Antwerp 
and Lillo, to which this fearful position of the armj 


would disable him from offering any effectual resistance. 
The bridge was entirely destroyed, and nothing could 
prevent the fleet from Zealand passing through in full 
sail; while the confusion of the troops in this first 
moment was so great and general that it would have been 
impossible to give or obey orders, as many corps had lost 
their commanding officers, and many commanders their 
corps ; and even the places where they had been stationed 
were no longer to be recognized amid the general ruin. 
Add to this that all the batteries on shore were under 
water, that several cannon were sunk, that the matches 
were wet, and the ammunition damaged. What a moment 
for the enemy if they had known how to avail themselves 
of it! 

It will scarcely be believed, however, that this success, 
which surpassed all expectation, was lost to Antwerp, 
simply because nothing was known of it. St. Aldegonde, 
indeed, as soon as the explosion of the mine was heard in 
the town, had sent out several galleys in the direction 
of the bridge, with orders to send up fire-balls and rockets 
the moment they had passed it, and then to sail with the 
intelligence straight on to Lillo, in order to bring up, 
without delay, the Zealand fleet, which had orders to 
co-operate. At the same time the admiral of Antwerp 
was ordered, as soon as the signal was given, to sail out 
with his vessels and attack the enemy in their first con- 
sternation. But although a considerable reward was prom- 
ised to the boatmen sent to reconnoitre they did not 
venture near the enemy, but returned without effecting 
their purpose, and reported that the bridge of boats was 
uninjured, and the fire-ship had had no effect. Even on 
the following day also no better measures were taken to 
learn the true state of the bridge ; and as the fleet at 
Lillo, in spite of the favorable wind, was seen to remain 
inactive, the belief that the fire-ships had accomplished 
nothing was confirmed. It did not seem to occur to any 
one that this very inactivity of the confederates, which 
misled the people of Antwerp, might also keep back the 
Zealanders at Lillo, as in fact it did. So signal an in- 
stance of neglect could only have occurred in a govern- 
ment, which, without dignity of independence, was guided 


by the tumultuous multitude it ought to have governed. 
The more supine, however, they were themselves in op- 
posing the enemy, the more violently did their rage boil 
against Gianibelli, whom the frantic mob would have torn 
in pieces if they could have caught him. For two days 
the engineer was in the most imminent danger, until at 
last, on the third morning, a courier from Lillo, who had 
swam under the bridge, brought authentic intelligence of 
its having been destroyed, but at the same time announced 
that it had been repaired. 

This rapid restoration of the bridge was really a miracu- 
lous effort of the Prince of Parma. Scarcely had he 
recovered from the shock, which seemed to have over- 
thrown all his plans, when he contrived, with wonderful 
presence of mind, to prevent all its evil consequences. 
The absence of the enemy's fleet at this decisive moment 
revived his hopes. The ruinous state of the bridge ap- 
peared to be a secret to them, and though it was impos- 
sible to repair in a few hours the work of so many months, 
yet a great point would be gained if it could be done 
even in appearance. All his men were immediately set 
to work to remove the ruins, to raise the timbers which 
had been thrown down, to replace those which were 
demolished, and to fill up the chasms with ships. The 
duke himself did not refuse to share in the toil, and his 
example was followed by all his ofiicers. Stimulated by 
this popular behavior, the common soldiers exerted them- 
selves to the utmost ; the work was carried on during the 
whole night under the constant sounding of drums and 
trumpets, which were distributed along the bridge to 
drown the noise of the work-people. With dawn of day 
few traces remained of the night's havoc ; and although 
the bridge was restored only in appearance, it neverthe- 
less deceived the spy, and consequently no attack was 
made upon it. In the meantime the prince contrived to 
make the repairs solid, nay, even to introduce some 
essential alterations in the structure. In order to guard 
against similar accidents for the future, a part of the 
bridge of boats was made movable, so that in case 
of necessity it could be taken away and a passage opened 
to the fire-ships. His loss of men was supplied from the 


garrisons of the adjoining places, and by a German 
regiment which arrived very opportunely from Gueldres. 
He filled up the vacancies of the officers who were killed, 
and in doing this he did not forget the Spanish ensign 
who had saved his life. 

The people of Antwerp, after learning the success of 
their mine-ship, now did homage to the inventor with as 
much extravagance as they had a short time before mis- 
trusted him, and they encouraged his genius to new 
attempts. Gianibelli now actually obtained the number 
of flat-bottomed vessels which he had at first demanded 
in vain, and these he equipped in such a manner that they 
struck with irresistible force on the bridge, and a second 
time also burst and separated it. But this time, the wind 
was contrary to the Zealand fleet, so that they could not 
put out, and thus the prince obtained once more the 
necessary respite to repair the damage. The Archimedes 
of Antwerp was not deterred by any of these disappoint- 
ments. Anew he fitted out two large vessels which were 
armed with iron hooks and similar instruments in order 
to tear asunder the bridge. But when the moment came 
for these vessels to get under weigh no one was found 
ready to embark in them. The engineer was therefore 
obliged to think of a plan for giving to these machines 
such a self-impulse that, without being guided by a 
steers?T\an, they would keep the middle of the stream, 
and not, like the former ones, be driven on the bank by 
the wind. One of his workmen, a German, here hit upon 
a strange invention, if Strada's description of it is to be 
credited. He afiixed a sail under the vessel, which was 
to be acted upon by the water, just as an ordinary sail is 
by the wind, and could thus impel the ship with the 
whole force of the current. The result proved the cor- 
rectness of his calculation ; for this vessel, with the posi- 
tion of its sails reversed, not only kept the centre of the 
stream, but also ran against the bridge with such impetu- 
osity that the enemy had not time to open it and was 
actually burst asunder. But all these results were of no 
service to the town, because the attempts were made at 
random and were supported by no adequate force. A 
new fire-ship, equipped like the former, which had sue- 


ceeded so well, and which Gianibelli had filled with foni* 
thousand pounds of the finest powder was not even used ; 
for a new mode of attemj^ting their deliverance had now 
occurred to the people of Antwerp. 

Terrified by so many futile attempts from endeavoring 
to clear a passage for vessels on the river by force, they 
at last came to the determination of doing without the 
stream entirely. They remembered the example of the 
town of Ley den, which, when besieged by the Spaniards 
ten years before, had saved itself by opportunely inundat- 
ing the surrounding country, and it was resolved to 
imitate this example. Between Lillo and Stabroek, in the 
district of Bergen, a wide and somewhat sloping plain 
extends as far as Antwerp, being protected by numerous 
embankments and counter-embankments against the irrup- 
tions of the East Scheldt. Nothing more was requisite 
than to break these dams, when the whole plain would 
become a sea, navigable by flat-bottomed vessels almost 
to the very walls of Antwerp. If this attempt should 
succeed, the Duke of Parma might keep the Scheldt 
guarded with his bridge of boats as long as he pleased; 
a new river would be formed, which, in case of necessity, 
would be equally serviceable for the time. This was the 
very plan which the Prince of Orange had at the com- 
mencement of the siege recommended, and in which he 
had been strenuously, but unsuccessfully, seconded by St. 
Aldegonde, because some of the citizens could not be 
persuaded to sacrifice their own fields. In the present 
emergency they reverted to this last resource, but circum- 
stances in the meantime had greatly changed. 

The plain in question is intersected by a broad and 
high dam, which takes its name from the adjacent Castle 
of Cowenstein, and extends for three miles from the 
village of Stabroek, in Bergen, as far as the Scheldt, with 
the great dam of which it unites near Ordam. Beyond 
this dam no vessels can proceed, however high the tide, 
and the sea would be vainly turned into the fields as long 
as such an embankment remained in the way, which 
would prevent the Zealand vessels from descending into 
the plain before Antwerp. The fate of the town would 
therefore depend upon the demolition of this Cowenstein 


dam ; but, foreseeing this, the Prince of Parma had, im- 
mediately on commencing the blockade, taken possession 
of it, and spared no pains to render it tenable to the last. 
At the village of Stabroek, Count Mansf eld was encamped 
with the greatest part of his army, and by means of this 
very Cowenstein dam kept open the communication with 
the bridge, the headquarters, and the Spanish magazines 
at Calloo. Thus the army formed an uninterrupted line 
from Stabroek in Brabant, as far as Bevern in Flanders, 
intersected indeed, but not broken by the Scheldt, and 
which could not be cut off without a sanguinary conflict. 
On the dam itself within proper distances five different 
batteries had been erected, the command of which was 
given to the most valiant officers in the army. Nay, as 
the Prince of Parma could not doubt that now the whole 
fury of the war would be turned to this point, he entrusted 
the defence of the bridge to Count Mansfeld, and resolved 
tc defend this important post himself. The war, there- 
fore, now assumed a different aspect, and the theatre of it 
was entirely changed. 

Both above and below Lillo, the Netherlanders had in 
several places cut through the dam, which follows the 
Brabant shore of the Scheldt ; and where a short time 
before had been green fields, a new element now presented 
itself, studded with masts and boats. A Zealand fleet, 
commanded by Count Hohenlohe, navigated the inundated 
fields, and made repeated movements against the Cowen- 
stein dam, without, however, attempting a serious attack 
on it, while another fleet showed itself in the Scheldt, 
threatening the two coasts alternately with a landing, and 
occasionally the bridge of boats with an attack. For 
several days this manoeuvre was practised on the enemy, 
who, uncertain of the quarter whence an attack was to be 
expected, would, it was hoped, be exhausted by continual 
watching, and by degrees lulled into security by so many 
false alarms. Antwerp had promised Count Hohenlohe 
to support the attack on the dam by a flotilla from the 
town ; three beacons on the principal tower were to be 
the signal that this was on the way. When, therefore, 
on a dark night the expected columns of fire really as- 
cended above Antwerp, Count Hohenlohe immediately 


caused ^ve hundred of his troops to scale the dam between 
two of the enemy's redoubts, who surprised part of the 
Spanish garrison asleep, and cut down the others who 
attempted to defend themselves. In a short time they 
had gained a firm footing upon the dam, and were just 
on the point of disembarking the remainder of their force, 
two thousand in number, when the Spaniards in the ad- 
joining redoubts marched out and, favored by the narrow- 
ness of the ground, made a desperate attack on the 
crowded Zealanders. The guns from the neighboring 
batteries opened upon the approaching fleet, and thus 
rendered the landing of the remaining troops impossible ; 
and as there were no signs of co-operation on the part of 
the city, the Zealanders were overpowered after a short 
conflict and again driven down from the dam. The vic- 
torious Spaniards pursued them through the water as far 
as their boats, sunk many of the latter, and compelled the 
rest to retreat with heavy loss. Count Hohenlohe threw 
the blame of this defeat upon the inhabitants of Antwerp, 
who had deceived him by a false signal, and it certainly 
must be attributed to the bad arrangement of both parties 
that the attempt failed of better success. 

But at last the allies determined to make a systematic 
assault on the enemy with their combined force, and to 
put an end to the siege by a grand attack as well on the 
dam as on the bridge. The 16th of May, 1686, was fixed 
upon for the execution of this design, and both armies 
used their utmost endeavors to make this day decisive. 
The force of the Hollanders and Zealanders, united to 
that of Antwerp, exceeded two hundred ships, to man 
which they had stripped their towns and citadels, and 
with this force they purposed to attack the Cowenstein 
dam on both sides. The bridge over the Scheldt was to 
be assailed with new machines of Gianibelli's invention, 
and the Duke of Parma thereby hindered from assisting 
the defence of the dam. 

Alexander, apprised of the danger which threatened 
him, spared nothing on his side to meet it with energy. 
Immediately after getting possession of the dam he had 
caused redoubts to be erected at five different places, and 
had given the command of them to the most experienced 


officers of the army. The first of these, which was called 
the Cross battery, was erected on the spot where the 
Cowenstein dam enters the great embankment of the 
Scheldt, and makes with the latter the form of a cross ; 
the Spaniard, Mondragone, was appointed to the command 
of this battery. A thousand paces farther on, near the 
castle of Cowenstein, was posted the battery of St. James, 
which was entrusted to the command of Camillo di Monte, 
At an equal distance from this lay the battery of St. 
George, and at a thousand paces from the latter, the Pile 
battery, under the command of Gamboa, so called from 
the pile-work on which it rested ; at the farthest end of 
the dam, near Stabroek, was the fifth redoubt, where 
Count Mansfeld, with Capizucchi, an Italian, commanded. 
All these forts the prince now strengthened with artillery 
and men ; on both sides of the dam, and along its whole 
extent, he caused piles to be driven, as well to render the 
main embankment firmer, as to impede the labor of the 
pioneers, who were to dig through it. 

Early on the morning of the 16th of May the enemy's 
forces were in motion. With the dusk of dawn there 
came floating down from Lillo, over the inundated coun- 
try, four burning vessels, which so alarmed the guards 
upon the dams, who recollected the former terrible ex- 
plosion, that they hastily retreated to the next battery. 
This was exactly what the enemy desired. In these ves- 
sels, which had merely the appearance of fire-ships, sol- 
diers were concealed, who now suddenly jumped ashore, 
and succeeded in mounting the dam at the undefended 
spot, between the St. George and Pile batteries. Imme- 
diately afterward the whole Zealand fleet showed itself, 
consisting of numerous ships-of-war, transports, and a 
crowd of smaller craft, which were laden with great sacks 
of earth, wool, fascines, gabions, and the like, for throw- 
ing up breastworks wherever necessary. The ships-of- 
war were furnished with powerful artillery, and numer- 
ously and bravely manned, and a whole army of pioneers 
accompanied it in order to dig through the dam as soon 
as it should be in their possession. 

The Zealanders had scarcely begun on their side to 
ascend the dam when the fleet of Antwerp advanced 

21— Schiller 


from Osterweel and attacked it on the other. A high 
breastwork was hastily thrown up between the two near- 
est hostile batteries, so as at once to divide the two gar- 
risons and to cover the pioneers. The latter, several 
hundreds in number, now fell to work with their spades 
on both sidea of the dam, and dug with such energy that 
hopes were entertained of soon seeing the two seas 
united. But meanwhile the Spaniards also had gained 
time to hasten to the spot from the two nearest redoubts, 
and make a spirited assault, while the guns from the bat- 
tery of St. George played incessantly on the enemy's 
fleet. A furious battle now raged in the quarter where 
they were cutting through the dike and throwing uj3 the 
breastworks. The Zealanders had drawn a strong line 
of troops round tho pioneers to keep the enemy from 
interrupting their work, and in this confusion of battle, 
in the midst of a storm of bullets from the enemy, often 
up to the breast in water, among the dead and dying, the 
pioneers pursued their work, under the incessant exhorta- 
tions of the merchants, who impatiently waited to see 
the dam opened and their vessels in safety. The impor- 
tance of the result, which it might be said depended 
entirely upon their spades, appeared to animate even the 
common laborers with heroic courage. Solely intent 
upon their task, they neither saw nor heard the work of 
death which waf= going on around them, and as fast as 
the foremost ranks fell those behind them pressed into 
their places. Their operations were greatly impeded by 
the piles which had been driven in, but still more by the 
attacks of the Spaniards, who burst with desperate 
courage through the thickest of the enemy, stabbed the 
pioneers in the pits where they were digging, and filled 
up again with dead bodies the cavities which the living 
bad made. At last, however, when most of their officers 
were killed or wounded, and the number of the enemy 
constantly increasing, while fresh laborers were supplying 
the place of those who had been slain, the courage of 
these valiant troops began to give way, and they thought 
it advisable to retreat to their batteries. Now, there- 
fore, the confederates saw themselves masters of the 
whole extent of the dam, from Fort St. George as far as 


the Pile battery. As, however, it seemed too long to 
wait for the thorough demolition of the dam, they hastily 
unloaded a Zealand transport, and brought the cargo 
over the dam to a vessel of Antwerp, with which Count 
Hohenlohe sailed in triumph to that city. The sight of 
the provisions at once filled the inhabitants with joy, and 
as if the victory was already won, they gave themselves 
up to the wildest exultation. The bells were rung, the 
cannon discharged, and the inhabitants, transported by 
their unexpected success, hurried to the Osterweel gate, 
to await the store-ships which were supposed to be at 

In fact, fortune had never smiled so favorably on the 
besieged as at that moment. The enemy, exhausted and 
dispirited, had thrown themselves into their batteries, 
and, far from being able to struggle with the victors for 
the post they had conquered, they found themselves 
rather besieged in the places where they had taken ref- 
uge. Some companies of Scots, led by their brave 
colonel, Balfour, attacked the battery of St. George, 
which, however, was relieved, but not without severe 
loss, by Camillo di Monte, who hastened thither from 
St. James' battery. The Pile battery was in a much 
worse condition, it being hotly cannonaded by the ships, 
and threatened every moment to crumble to pieces. Gam- 
boa, who commanded it, lay wounded, and it was unfor- 
tunately deficient in artillery to keep the enemy at a 
distance. The breastwork, too, which the Zealanders 
had thrown up between this battery and that of St. 
George cut off all hope of assistance from the Scheldt. 
If, therefore, the Belgians had only taken advantage of 
this weakness and inactivity of the enemy to proceed 
with zeal and perseverance in cutting through the dam, 
there is no doubt that a passage might have been made, 
and thus put an end to the whole siege. But here also 
the same want of consistent energy showed itself which 
had marked the conduct of the people of Antwerp dur- 
ing the whole course of the siege. The zeal with which 
the work had been commenced cooled in proportion to 
the success which attended it. it was soon found too 
tedious to dig through the dyke ; it seemed far easier to 


transfer the cargoes from the large store-ships into 
smaller ones, and carry these to the town with the flood 
tide. St. Aldegonde and Hohenlohe, instead of remain- 
ing to animate the industry of the workmen by their 
personal presence, left the scene of action at the decisive 
moment, in order, by sailing to the town with a corn ves- 
sel, to win encomiums on their wisdom and valor. 

While both parties were fighting on the dam with the 
most obstinate fury the bridge over the Scheldt had 
been attacked from Antwerp with new machines, in 
order to give employment to the prince in that quarter. 
But the sound of the firing soon apprised him of what 
was going on at the dyke, and as soon as he saw the 
bridge clear he hastened to support the defence of the 
dyke. Followed by two hundred Spanish pikemen, he 
flew to the place of attack, and arrived just in time to 
prevent the complete defeat of his troops. He hastily 
posted some guns which he had brought with him in the 
two nearest redoubts, and maintained from thence a 
heavy fire upon the enemy's ships. He placed himself at 
the head of his men, and, with his sword in one hand and 
shield in the other, led them against the enemy. The 
news of his arrival, which quickly spread from one end 
of the dyke to the other, revived the drooping spirits of 
his troops, and the conflict recommenced with renewed 
violence, made still more murderous by the nature of the 
ground where it was fought. Upon the narrow ridge of 
the dam, which in many places was not more than nine 
paces broad, about five thousand combatants were fight- 
ing ; so confined was the spot upon which the strength of 
both armies was assembled, and which was to decide the 
whole issue of the siege. With the Antwerpers the last 
bulwark of their city was at stake ; with the Spaniards it 
was to determine the whole success of their undertakin<»\ 


Both parties fouo'ht with a courage which despair 'ilone 
could inspire. From both the extremities of tne dam 
the tide of war rolled itself towards the centre, where 
the Zealanders and Antwerpers had the advantage, and 
where they had collected their whole strength. The 
Italians and Spaniards, inflamed by a noble emulation, 
pressed on from Stabroek; and from the Scheldt the 


WaUoons and Spaniards advanced, with their general at 
their head. While the former endeavored to relieve the 
Pile battery, which was hotly pressed by the enemy, 
both by sea and land, the latter threw themselves on the 
breastwork, between the St. George and the Pile bat- 
teries, with a fury which carried everything before it. 
Here the flower of the Belgian troops fought behind a 
well-fortified rampart, and the guns of the two fleets 
covered this important post. The prince was already 
pressing forward to attack this formidable defence with 
his small army when he received intelligence that the 
Italians and Spaniards, under Capizucchi and Aquila, had 
forced their way, sword in hand, into the Pile battery, 
had got possession of it, and were now likewise ad- 
vancing from the other side against the enemy's breast- 
work. Before this intrenchment, therefore, the whole 
force of both armies was now collected, and both sides 
used their utmost efforts to carry and to defend this posi- 
tion. The Netherlanders on board the fleet, loath to 
remain idle spectators of the conflict, sprang ashore from 
their vessels, Alexander attacked the breastwork on one 
side, Count Mansfeld on the other; five assaults were 
made, and five times they were repulsed. The Kether- 
landers in this decisive moment surpassed themselves; 
never in the whole course of the war had they fought 
with such determination. But it was the Scotch and 
English in particular who bafiled the attempts of the 
enemy by their valiant resistance. As no one would 
advance to the attack in the quarter where the Scotch 
fought, the duke himself led on the troops, with a javelin 
in his hand, and up to his breast in water. At last, after 
a protracted struggle, the forces of Count Mansfeld suc- 
ceeded with their halberds and pikes in making a breach 
in the breastwork, and by raising themselves on one 
another's shoulders scaled the parapet. Barthelemy 
Toralva, a Spanish captain, was the first who showed 
himself on the top ; and almost at the same instant the 
Italian, Capizucchi, appeared upon the edge of it ; and 
thus the contest of valor was decided with equal glory 
for both nations. It is worth while to notice here the 
manner in which the Prince of Parma, who was made 


arbiter of this emulous strife, encouraged this delicate 
sense of honor among his warriors. He embraced the 
Italian, Capizucchi, in presence of the troops, and ac- 
knowledged aloud that it was principally to the courage 
of this officer that he owed the capture of the breast- 
w^ork. He caused the Spanish captain, Toralva, who was 
dangerously wounded, to be conveyed to his own quar- 
ters at Stabroek, laid on his own bed, and covered with 
the cloak which he himself had worn the day before the 

After the capture of the breastwork the victory no lon- 
ger remained doubtful. The Dutch and Zealand troops, 
who had disembarked to come to close action w ith the 
enemy, at once lost their courage when they looked about 
them and saw the vessels, which were their last refuge, 
putting off from the shore. 

For the tide had begun to ebb, and the commanders of 
the fleet, from fear of being stranded with their heavy 
transports, and, in case of an unfortunate issue to the 
engagement, becoming the prey of the enemy, retired 
from the dam, and made for deep water. No sooner did 
Alexander perceive this than he pointed out to his troops 
tlie flying vessels, and encouraged them to finish the ac- 
tion with an enemy who already despaired of their safety. 
The Dutch auxiliaries were the first that gave way, and 
their example was soon followed by the Zealanders. 
Hastily leaping from the dam they endeavored to reach 
the vessels by wading or swimming ; but from their dis- 
orderly flight they impeded one another, and fell in 
heaps under the swords of the pursuers. Many perished 
even in the boats, as each strove to get on board before 
the other, and several vessels sank under the weight of the 
numbers who rushed into them. The Antwerpers, whc 
fought for their liberty, their hearths, their faith, were 
the last w^ho retreatedji but this very circumstance aug^ 
mented their disaster. Many of their vessels were out- 
stripped by the ebb-tide, and grounded within reach of 
the enemy's cannon, and were consequently destroyed 
with all on board. Crowds of fugitives endeavored by 
swimming to gain the other transports, which had got 
into deep water ; but such was the rage and boldness of 


the Spaniards that they swam after them with their 
swords between their teeth, and dragged many even 
from the ships. The victory of the king's troops was 
complete but bloody ; for of the Spaniards about eight 
hundred, of the Netherlanders some thousands (without 
reckoning those who were drowned), were left on the 
field, and on both sides many of the principal nobility 
perished. More than thirty vessels, with a large supply 
of provisions for Antwerp, fell into the hands of the 
victors, with one hundred and fifty cannon and other 
military stores. The dam, the possession of which had 
been so dearly maintained, was pierced in thirteen differ- 
ent places, and the bodies of those who had cut through 
it were now used to stop up the openings. 

The following day a transport of immense size and si»- 
gular construction fell into the hands of the royalists. W 
formed a floating castle, and had been destined for the 
attack on the Cowenstein dam. The people of Antwerp 
had built it at an immense expense at the very time 
when the engineer Gianibelli's useful proposals had been 
rejected on account of the cost they entailed, and this 
ridiculous monster was called by the proud title of "End 
of the War," which appellation was afterwards changed 
for the more appropriate sobriquet of "Money lost!" 
When this vessel was launched it turned out, as every 
sensible person had foretold, that on account of its 
unwieldly size it was utterly impossible to steer it, and 
it could hardly be floated by the highest tide. With 
great difficulty it was worked as far as Ordam, where, 
deserted by the tide, it went aground, and fell a prey to 
the enemy. 

The attack upon the Cowenstein dam was the last at- 
tempt which was made to relieve Antwerp. From this 
time the courage of the besieged sank, and the magis- 
tracy of the town vainly labored to inspirit with distant 
hopes the lower orders, on whom the present distress 
weighed heaviest. Hitherto the price of bread had been 
kept down to a tolerable rate, although the quality of it 
continued to deteriorate ; by degrees, however, provisions 
became so scarce that a famine was evidently near at 
hand. Still hopes were entertained of being able to hold 


out, at least until the corn between the town and the 
farthest batteries, which was ah'eady in full ear, could be 
reaped; but before that could be done the enemy had 
carried the last outwork, and had appropriated the whole 
harvest to their use. At last the neighboring and con- 
federate town of Malines fell into the enemy's hands, and 
with its fall vanished the only remaining hope of getting 
supplies from Brabant. As there was, therefore, no longer 
any means of increasing the stock of provisions nothing 
was left but to diminish the consumers. AH useless per- 
sons, all strangers, nay even the women and children 
were to be sent away out of the town, but this proposal 
was too revolting to humanity to be carried into execu- 
tion. Another plan, that of expelling the Catholic inhab- 
itants, exasperated them so much that it had almost ended 
in open mutiny. And thus St. Aldegonde at last saw 
himself compelled to yield to the riotous clamors of the 
populace, and on the 17th of August, 1585, to make 
overtures to the Duke of Parma for the surrender of the 


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